Archive for January, 2009

The Pretenders At the Roseland Ballroom

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Pretenders

Roseland Ballroom

01/30/09

The Pretenders continued their “Break Up the Concrete” tour on their second stop in N.Y.C. at the Roseland Ballroom and like every show they didn’t disappoint.

The show began with an opening band named “American Bang” and whomever decided to skip the opening act just to see the Pretenders made a grave mistake. They were rockin’ and strutting like any good rocker could. They proved that classic rock and roll is not the only in the past.

“I just met Chrissie last night…” The lead singer commented during a small break in songs. “…you guys aren’t the only one”.

After their short; but, explosive set the Pretenders took stage and command. Starting out with “Boots of Chinese Plastic” The Band proved once (and hopefully for all) that they are not some wash-up 80’s band fighting for relevance. As Hynde strutted on stage throughout a great many guitar changes between her and lead guitarist James Walbourne, she seemed in great spirits. The Second song “Don’t Cut Your Hair” was dedicated to all the “Guys in the audience” and it blasted off with the same vigor and mature attitude as “Boots Of Chinese Plastic”.

“It’s always great to be in NYC” Hynde said with a large smile. “…this is the ‘Talk of the Town'”

and the band launched into the Pretenders II classic. “Message of Love”, “Don’t Lose Faith in Me” and “Love’s a Mystery” followed with great fanfare, aptly underscored by Eric Heywood’s steel guitar work.

“Back on The Chain Gang” only suffered from a severe case of nostalgia, clearly showing off Hynde’s mastery of writing and the band’s mastery of their art.

“It’s good to see you again!” Hynde exclaimed to the front row, and to my surprise she was actually speaking to me, she smiled and then went on. “This is a song by an amazing Song writer from Ohio” and the band promptly rocked out to the Robert Kidney tune “Rosalee”.

Here’s where James Walbourne shows off his chops, ripping a solo to shreds and making it seem easy at the same time. The band seemed comfortable as always playing the song, laughing and enjoying themselves as much as we were enjoying them.

“The Last Ride”, another tune from the new album followed and while it was slower and quieter it was nontheless just as masterful as anything else and easily one of the best written songs on the album.

To the joy of many of the old fans who came for a bout of nostalgia and familiarity “Stop Your Sobbing” “Day After Day” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong” came with strong abusiveness from the band. Suddenly The Pretenders seemed to be getting rough with their playing and even the sweet songs were beginning to feel more rock, almost to the point where one didn’t know what was going to come next.

The first surprise of the night came in the song “Tequila” that many older fans will know. First appearing on an album in 1994’s “Learning to Crawl” “Tequila” is one of the first songs Hynde had played with late Bass Guitarist Pete Farndon. The song was then recorded with nearly every line-up of the band from there on. The song came in with a great deal of confusion to most of the people at the Roseland Ballroom; but, not without enjoyment. The slow verses are perfectly combined with the rough and tumble bridge “Miles baby, hundred highways and truck-stops I’ve used/cause baby hundred of cars have passed and refused!” For all those, big fans and smaller fans alike “Tequila” was a rare gem dug up and won’t be soon forgotten.

“Thumbelina” followed next and James Walbourne again got to show off just why Chrissie chose him as her new lead guitarist. He takes the old Robbie Macintosh solo and tears it a new hole, so to speak, with great skill and attitude.

“Brass in Pocket” came and went a great song; but, no where near the impact of any of the other songs. Most people come just for this one song and really miss the entire point of the shows.

The second surprise of the night came with “Bad Boys Get Spanked” the Pretenders II song had been performed on the last tour; but, for some reason it felt like the first time it was ever played last night. Martin Chambers finally blasted off into the stratosphere rocking the drums to the point that Chrissie seemed to be in the WAY of my viewing his amazing mastery of his instrument. To watch him is to watch the best of the best, do better than you could ever expect.

The THIRD surprise came with “Tattooed Love Boys.” Chrissie looked at the front row and said: “this one is for you three right there” and again I was shocked to see her referencing myself and two of my friends to my right. I was sure what to expect; but, the familiar three note lick that James Honeyman-Scott played thirty years ago, snapped me back. It had all the rough and tumble that one can recall. and the Audience was on its toes singing along with Hynde. “I went apewire, because I thought that I liked it/little teast; but, I didn’t mean it/ but you mess with the goods doll and you gotta pay…yeah!” Martin Chambers again showed that even though he’s 57 he’s still got the energy and wickedness of someone half his age. James Walbourne rocked the solo and before you knew it the fire on the stage reached a climax with those three ending words. “You…are…that!”

The band did one more song on the list the title track “Break Up The Concrete” Hynde and co. Easily demolished the song with her “dak dak dak daka daka” and the band pulsating Bo-Diddly beat.

The band came out for two encores The First featured the original Pretenders hit “Kid” and the second was “Precious” the hardest rocking song in show business. John McEnroe joined the band for “Precious”.

The Second Encore featured the punk classic “The Wait” which knocked the audience on the floor. and the last song of the night was the best surprise of all.

“Up The Neck” rounded out the show with such beauty and harshness, that it left everyone praying for one more song.

In the end the message is clear. Not only have the Pretenders still got it…They’ve never lost it.