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Pretenders Day After Day

July 19, 1981 - Mansfield, England - Mansfield Leisure Centre

A review written by Neil Rowland from Melody Maker, July, 1981

Kicking Down The Door

A real human being is more than a welcome change from the insouciant soul overcrowding the chart as if it were a bat cave - it's a pin through the blow up of emotions of pop people who wouldn't seem real in Dallas or manage to break a tear capsule in an episode of "Best Sellers".

And one REAL HUMAN BEING is all that's needed - just a svelte torch-light to send the inhabitants scattering as in the opening scenes of "The Children Of Dracula", where someone draws a curtain and lets in the sunshine.

Mansfield needs a Chrissie Hynde too, because they have been hurt, cheated and humiliated themselves. Chrissie understands the imperfections of relationships, the crudities of living and the problems of merely existing. She presents this in her songs and becuase of it they count.

Which is why Kim Wilde is as real as the photographers of Labrador puppies with pink ribbons round their necks you get on greeting cards. Beyond its initial lusciousness, her Perfectibility is nothing more than a puff of warm air from her pouting lips. It's the teen "magazines" ideal of love... or is that sex?

As for the frog marching dramatics of those glam freakies Wilcox/O'Connor, I would rather be run-over, face down, by a tank! The mechanic misery of the new romantiques is hardly satisfying either. Have you ever seen a new romantique preparing for a passport picture? I have, and I've never seen a queue in Woolworth's like it.

Musically and visually the three male Pretenders caricature the Fifties type, "straight ahead" rock 'n' roll band. Bassist Pete Farndon looks a little thuggish dressed as a teddy boy, and James Honeyman-Scott plays brash guitar which attempts to twist your spine like a pipe cleaner.

If drummer Martin Chambers was a goalkeeper he would do two or three rolls after even the most simple save - and he throws more drum sticks into the audience than you would need for candles on Cliff Richard's birthday cake.

It is as if Chrissie in on one side of a door keeping it closed, and they are on the other side trying to kick it down.

She dominates their machismos by mocking their crude, heavy handed playing with her voice and words, by refusing to be intimidated by it, and on stage, with gestures and expressions which reduce them to over-grown adolescents cockfighting for her as a mother substitute.

These complications, and that worn, slightly bitter, but tender voice, determines them from the U.S. idea of "new wave" (despite success in America). They are not like Pat Benatar, the Cars, or the Knack - they never insult our intelligence or our humanity.

The old hits sounded a little staid and bored with themselves at Mansfield - like over washed clothes - but "Message Of Love" came through them, and the unfamiliar songs to be featured on the new LP, chugged along with insight.

Only Lesley Woods of the Au Pairs can challenge sexuality and promote true feminity with Chrissie Hynde's evocation. Pop's Marjie Proops doesn't pretender to have any solutions or know any better - but we need her songs of sex-life complications...

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