With the passing of time, [a]Frank Black[/a] has lost some of his formidable girth, yet retained an innocence of sorts. A man of his age should be more concerned with mortgages and school fees than aliens, space travel and suburbia, but there you go. Perhaps the secret lies in the way he disbands and reforms groups, like a vampire preying on fresh blood. Whichever way, this young outfit are the ex-[a]Pixies[/a] frontman’s best backers for years.
The show starts as a symphony of noisy hate and gradually settles into a spacey, Mexicano-flavoured hard rock that allows Black to revisit back pages and air new songs hewn from the same old cloth. [I]”I’m up there in the stars tonight/I wonder if someone cares”[/I], he sings to a lilting riff – a guitar note stretched to eternity – as he ponders the swing of fortune that has him facing a new generation.
Mista Black doesn’t scream like he used to, but he ain’t ready to give up the good ol’ boy yells just yet. Even if songs are at their most spooky when the transplanted Bostonian bemoans his small-town surroundings and dreams of escape to [I]”an abstract plane”[/I].
In Black‘s weather-beaten hands, a harmless phrase like [I]”you’ll miss my loving ways”[/I] sounds like a threat. And the occasional conservatism of such a lean and hungry group comforts more than it irritates, strangely enough. It’s just the way Frank plays ’em.