Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Paley & Pixie Keep It Raw at Club Cafe

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Paley & Pixie Keep It Raw at Club Cafe

Article excerpt

On Tuesday night at Club Cafe, Reid Paley and Black Francis turned out to be at their best as ... Paley & Francis.

The two friends from the old Boston punk scene released an album together, but that was two years ago. So that's not what this tour was about. Rather, they did separate sets, starting with Paley, who reigned over the Pittsburgh punk scene in the early '80s as the frontman of noise terrorists The Five.

Paley always had a sharp edge to him, which has dulled only slightly with age. As a singer-songwriter with a guitar, well, he's no Richard Thompson on either level, but that's not the idea. His approach is just raw, guttural, boozy, and if his beat-up Gretsch isn't quite in tune, so what.

"Show of hands, how many care if I'm in tune?" he said, and when one brave soul raised his hand, he joked, "Security! Get him out if here!"

The songs were wry, amusing takes on the themes of pain, unhappiness and self-loathing and what is required to soothe them. "I'm not a happy man," he started one song that went on to a hearty chorus of "Pour me one more drink, and take me home." Paley likes to throw in long, pregnant pauses, as if to say, "You gotta problem with any of this?"

And, as if fully aware that he's more aging punk thrasher than virtuoso, he told the room, "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your perfunctory, half-hearted applause."

One of the highlights, by request, was "I'm Not Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh)," a song recorded by Francis in 2006 that Paley said "is often misinterpreted." Written by Paley, who left here for good in 1986, it does not actually equate being in Pittsburgh with being barely alive.

The headliner came with a more sonic setup that had his Telecaster cranked, pretty much from the first song, "Wicked Son," to the last, and he blazed through his hour-plus set as though he had a bus to catch. …

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