No high pitched screaming. No welcome Kim Deal stage presence. No Joey Santiago guitar knives slicing your skull. Just "Gouge Away" on acoustic guitar?
Seeing Black solo, as I did on Saturday night, is a profoundly strange voodoo kind of thing. The crowd all just stood stunned while he played. I think it was the lack of volume or perhaps the lack of his customary unpredictable fury that had them befuddled. It's not that it was unpleasant, because it wasn't, but seeing Charles Thompson aka Black Francis aka Frank Black makes you wonder just how many personalities actually lurk in that substantial (ain’t I kind?), bald-headed, bespectacled body.
The solo version of CT/BF/FB is even weirdly twangy, downright homespun in spots. The fact that he can nail Doug Sahm tunes, few have ever done a better version of "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day," is a truly astounding gift coming from a man better known for being the malevolent presence. I mean can anyone full on shriek, I’m thinking of the line, "Then God is Seven!," from "Monkey Gone to Heaven", like Charles? PS: More record business sadness. Tower Records goes Chapter 11 today.