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February 17-18, Portland, OR - Roseland Ballroom

by Joe Kratz

Portland, Oregon (Roseland) Feb 17th and 18th When executed properly rock n roll can be a beautiful thing. The Pretenders were indeed very beautiful both nights in Portland. Raunchy sold out crowds each night were very vocal with their appreciation for the band, so much so that at one point between songs Chrissie said "we're not that good, really" I'm not going to recite the set lists (you'll hear me mention most of the songs anyway !!!) as they were very similar each night and similar to those from previous reviews. It seems as though there are only a handful of songs that get subbed in from night to night. Speaking of the set list I was very happy to hear "Viva El Amor!" well represented. A total of 7 songs each night from this brilliant release were played including stunning versions of "Who's Who", "Babys Breath", "Pop Star", gorgeous versions of "Biker" and show opener "Samurai" the relentless assault of "Legalize Me"(wicked!!!!) and the melodic grace of "Human". As one would expect the show was laced with all the old favs "Kid" "Chain Gang" "Message Of Love" "Stop Your Sobbing" "Talk Of The Town" "Precious" and "Brass In Pocket" and the excellent "Mystery Achievement" . Having said that, perhaps the hilight of the night was the blistering rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Room Full Of Mirrors" an all out attack on one's senses!!!! Martin unleashes everything in his reportiore on this one!!!

When you look back through the years, it is amazing how Chrissie has managed time and time again to always surrounded herself with only quality players. This line up is no exception. Adam Seymour....pure fire ....a guy that makes the guitar sing, a real technician. Martin Chambers needs no explanation and Andy Hobson on bass is solid as well. This is one tight outfit, just as impressive as on the terrific 1994 "Last Of The Independents" tour. With the Pretenders there is no messing around they come out ...no fancy lights ...no fancy backdrops just pure straight ahead kick you in the teeth rock...its always been this way!!!

A Pretenders show would not be complete without a political statement from Chrissie Hynde. She has and always will be a militant animal rights advocate (thank goodness!) and she sings and speaks about it during her shows. "Any of you who've have a burger today can go F%#K yourselves!!!" Chrissie barked in a nasty tone!!! For those fans/concert goers that say this takes away from the music/concert experience I would challenge you and say it adds to it!!! Rock and Roll is and always has been about attitude, conviction, passion and making a statement...there is no one better than Chrissie Hynde at delivering these elements. As a fan you know what she's about so I would think one would and should expect it. Would you rather she thank Pepsi ??!?!?!

Anyway in the end when it was all over, the band stood across the stage, bowed and left with Martin saying "THANK YOU PORTLAND FOR 2 GREAT NIGHTS... ITS BEEN FUN" Indeed it was!

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February 18
by Hugh Brackett

Having been a Pretenders fan since the 1980 release of their first album at the tender age of 15, I've always wanted a front row seat for one of their shows. I've seen them many times in various cities from all sections of the hall and finally got to see them up close in Portland at the Roseland Theatre. I'd have attended the Fillmore show in San Francisco had it not sold out in a day. So my partner and I drove ten hours up from the Sierra foothills in northern California to Portland staying overnight in Mount Shasta.

When I walked into the theatre (which looked more like a great old rocknroll club than what I think of as a "theatre") I was able to score two posters, a shirt and walk right up to the stage in front of Adam's spot. The folks to my right and left were very friendly, bright and outgoing--personality traits typical of Portland residents--I'd later surmise on my return trip.

When the opening act, Gay Dad started playing, I was relieved that they weren't whining. And hats-off to them for writing MELODIES, the most important part of music (not just riffs). But while introducing the third song, I think it was "Oh Jim", the lead singer said something to the effect that even though their name is "Gay Dad" it doesn't mean that they're gay and all their songs are gay songs. And that he was glad we weren't all "a bunch of poseurs like those northern Californians" at which point he mocked what he felt was the reaction he got in SF: "Hmmmm, Gay dad!??....hmmmm" with a feminine voice and limp wrist. Now, this boy did have a bright rainbow guitar strap and a rhinestone studded pendant pinned to the direct center of his black shirt which exclaimed "QUEER" (a fashion mistake you won't find me making in my grave, and I AM gay) and the way he bounced around stage clearly indicated some lightness in the heels. So who is the "poseur" here? Now I couldn't care less about the personal lives of strangers, but given the paradox of his display and that I'm political yet not willing to tow anyone's partyline, I couldn't figure out what he was trying to accomplish...and soon, didn't care. A few songs later he introduced one called "Jesus Christ" saying that even though it's not really about Jesus (at this point I burst into an unconcealable smile) it's about loneliness (at that, I burst into laughter). Ah, the loneliness of the long-distance poseur. All the misunderstood bands. Used to be, youth had piss and sharp wit as well as musical talent which made it very dangerous and that brings me to......

Pretenders. I've never seen anyone take the stage with such liquid ease as Chrissie. She moves in like a panther and you can feel the electricity in the air. Her voice is better than ever. I liked their opening with the haunting, erotic "Samurai" (one of her very best ballads, I think) then launching the show with "Legalise Me". Then "Message of Love" and we were taken away. Chrissie made a point of saying that she thought Portland was one of the last "decent" cities in America and that if they try building another McDonalds, "you lay your skinny asses down, tell them 'FUCK YOURSELVES. AND DO IT...TODAY!'" It's true that she is being very vocal about animal rights on this tour. And in Portland she brought up the issue of multi-national corporations and our notion of "progress" segueing-way into "Downtown Akron" and "My City Was Gone". I agree with her 100% so I don't have a problem, but she did push a few buttons in the crowd. She mentioned the una-bomber (he's in our neck-of-the-woods, dear readers from elsewhere) expressing her agreement with his manifesto but not his actions. I suppose some people haven't read it and didn't understand her point. She later told the audience "you all kind of look like the una-bomber"! Having seen the return to stage of Patti Smith, Blondie, Marianne Faithfull, X and the Knitters over the last few years, something I see Chrissie has in common besides the great music is a wry sense of humor and CLEVER irreverence which is such a gust of fresh air in a pop-culture of mtv attitude. Someone gave Chrissie a shirt that made her smile; it read "McShit" with the familiar arch logo. It gladdens me that there are a few rockers who actually are passionate and political and not afraid of controversy. RnR is so safe and corporate anymore. And to get a deal these days, you better sound like all the rest of the most contrite, shallow, attitude-saturated bullshit out there so you can sell lots of products for your sponsors. The old model of the temper-tantrum personal pathology-driven, center-of-the-world rock star is over. Unfortunately there are a lot of old models on the road out there. Chrissie is not one of them. Such moxie and bite. Rockin' tunes that stand the test of time. She's got bottle and I'll have some more. Thank you, Pretenders, the drive up north was well worth it, and thanks to Roseland Theatre and the beautiful, friendly city of Portland, too.

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