Black Francis Tours His Catalogue In Set At Spaceland Ballroom

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Black Francis played a sold out show at the Spaceland Ballroom on May 15. (Nick Caito)

Black Francis played a sold out show at the Spaceland Ballroom on May 15. (Nick Caito)

Black Francis took the stage at Spaceland Ballroom rather simply. All he did was walk on, wave, and put his cream colored Fender Jaguar over his sleeveless shoulders.

It was that relaxed vibe that encompassed most of his set. Black Francis (aka Charles Kittridge Thompson aka Frank Black) was alone with his guitar on stage and jamming out, it just happened that a few hundred people were watching.
“Uh I’m sorry, I forgot how this song ends.” Francis said, bringing an abrupt halt to a seemingly never ending final chorus of “Bad News,” only his second song of the night. “That one is a little depressing for the second song of a set.”

That was his only real musical foible for the roughly two hour solo performance. Black Francis deftly played through his songs with a natural ease, spouting forth the dynamic alternation between warbly singing and bat-like screech that he’s known for. With just an electric guitar and two effects pedals, Black Francis brought out surprisingly full sounding melodies despite the lack of any backing musicians.

Black Francis played a sold out show at the Spaceland Ballroom on May 15. (Nick Caito)

Black Francis played a sold out show at the Spaceland Ballroom on May 15. (Nick Caito)

Francis went through a huge catalogue of songs, encompassing Frank Black material (I Heard Ramona Sing, [I Want To Live on an] Abstract Plain), Frank Black And The Catholics (Six Sixty Six), and Black Francis (You Can’t Break a Heart and Have It).

Of course there were quite a few tracks from The Pixies, which still proves to be Francis’ most popular project. He performed three tracks from 1989’s “Doolittle,” including “Wave of Mutilation” as the set opener. The biggest crowd reaction was likely to “Where Is My Mind?,” which instantly drew falsetto backing vocals from the audience.

Black Francis is joined by Reid Paley on stage at the Spaceland Ballroom. (Nick Caito)

Black Francis is joined by Reid Paley on stage at the Spaceland Ballroom. (Nick Caito)

A few of his regular cover performances were thrown in, playing Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Wheels” and lending his trademark yelling to Tom Waits’ “The Black Rider.”

After closing his set with “Los Angeles,” opener Reid Pailey was brought up on stage for another few tracks off their collaborative record, 2011’s “Paley & Francis.”

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