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by Jeff Plummer
We don't get many big name acts in San Luis Obispo. So when the Pretenders were announced , we jumped at the
chance at seeing Chrissy and the guys. The venue was the San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center located at Cal
Poly University. My wife and I had 4th row seats and they were great. Linda Perry opened the show and gave her
all and a good little set. The sound was not the greatest, but what the heck. Finally the pretenders hit the stage
and they break into "The Wait" folks are up dancing (well some) you see there was a mixture of folks
who wanted to dance, and the majority who wanted to sit ! We tried to dance, but security (Avg. age 60+) flashed
their flashlights and we sat down. Chrissy was in rare form, some songs she would stop in the beginning and re-start
blaming Martin, or her bad memory of chords etc... It almost seemed like we were watching a soundcheck. It was
great, she was really enjoying playing with the audience. She made the comment "I bet you are happy you finally
get a band in town that can play, huh !" and other small town cracks. She looked great in her form fitting
Levis and tight black top. They played everything you would want to hear, "Chain Gang", "Night in
my Veins", "Kid", "Legalise Me", "Pop Star" "Mystery Achievement"
and a great version of "Needle and the Damage Done" in tribute to Neal Young and many more songs... at
one point in the encores, she asked us what we wanted to hear. It was nice to see them in such loose form. They
played very tight, minus a couple of false starts on some songs, (which was fun to see). Martin is a madman on
the skins and Chrissy made the comment that after 22 years she still loves to watch him play By the end of the
night everyone was dancing. "Middle of the Road" got us all up on the floor. I hope they keep goin' because
they are a vital link to some great rock & roll of the past....
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Drinking the first beer in the parking lot, I looked around the lot to see a red TLB bandana displayed on an
SUV not far away. "Hi, I'm Tarkus, which TOTTownsfolks are you?" Judy and Bob introduced themselves from
San Francisco. We kicked some beer while we poured through the infamous scrapbook of the Tark-chives. We shared
stories from shows past. It's a real pleasure to party with these two. It could of lasted for days, but I had to
get to the doors to find Jamie and Trish.
They finally stroll up to me with a surprise guest with them, Cindy from Akron! We milled about the front doors
meeting fans, partying, and anticipating what to expect from this show. Donna and Leslie found us, as did a photographer
who happened to have the night's set list. I was thrilled to see Time The Avenger on it, but I don't think they
played it. I wasn't familiar with Linda Perry and was too anxious to sit for the opener. It wasn't until she sang
Spaceman when I recognized her from 4 non-blondes. A smiling man came up to me and asked, "Are you Tarkus?
I'm Jealous Dog Willie." Another unexpected surprise! We talked briefly as it was almost showtime.
Crowd control was overdone. I don't know why I expected them to be slack. One beehive head was being downright
rude to Trish, Jamie, and I. We were at the end of the 4th row so we were accessible to her nastiness.
THE WAIT opened the show. It seemed to be deliberately slower than P1. I could almost make out every word. It rocked,
but the ushers were very intolerant of standing up. MONEY TALK followed immediately and I could name that tune
in half a chord. Another kick-ass performance from the band, strong and proud. The crowd was distracted from the
constant badgering from the ushers (Boo-hiss).
Third up- THE ADULTRESS, a welcome addition to the setlists from the winter tour. CH seemed to roll thru it as
if she was unfamiliar with it. TOTT was nice as usual, with a very long pause where it breaks. She walked back
to Martin and seemed to be having a private chat with him.
What happened next was hilarious. The band started playing HUMAN while Chrissie was playing KID. She turned to
the band saying "Stop, stop, stop".
"You all knew I made a mistake but kept playing anyway, what's up with that?". The band and crowd laughed
together. Then, they played a very strong HUMAN. That was the moment we realized that she becomes flawless after
a miscue or fumbled lyric.
KID followed, without the usual tribute to Jim and Pete. After this, she bantered a bit, then went over to Adam
to find the starting chord for I GO TO SLEEP. She strutted back to the mic and said, "I had to show him how
this starts". It sounded great, and we could actually sit back in our seats in awe.
"This is the song Neil Young wrote for me, but didn't know that then!"
NEEDLE/DAMAGE seemed much more enjoyable at this part of the show then at the end. Adam built a bonfire with grinding
chords during his intense double solo. I looked around at dropped jaws and popped eyes.
"This next one I wrote for Neil, but he doesn't know it yet!" (big laughs)
Andy thumped the bass line to MY CITY WAS GONE. The whole band really got into it heavily. Chrissie put a lot of
extra weight into her pedals, obviously affected by Adam's previous inferno. This did Not sound routine.
She finally took a breather and quipped about being on tour with Neil Young, and the week of LA experiences. "I
still have the same clothes on from last night", she laughed. Everyone laughed. Andy was now warmed up and
he showed it next throughout POPSTAR. I think he is finding comfort in performing live professionally. LEGALIZE
ME kept the house rockin'. The ushers were easing a bit, but still a pain in the ass. Adam shows off the stuff
he learned from Jeff Beck. No breather here, either, as they raced right into NIGHT/VEINS.
There was only one near-miss in the lyrics. It's rare she gets this song perfect.
HYMN TO HER provided a cool down and sweetened the set. Again, flawless. The set was closed with MYSTERY ACHIEVEMENT.
Everyone was up and screaming for more. The band exited the stage in a queue, waving.
They came back out almost the same way they left. CH looked around at her band and then sang, "It is time…for
you to stop…all of your sobbin". This also sounded unroutine and fresh! The crowd was still up hooting and
hollering when it ended. Martin began pounding the intro to MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, with a little extra. CH told him
we didn't need a Martin Chambers drum clinic. Martin apologized, and then said he thinks we did need it. He continued
with huge drum splashes and stick twirling and juggling. It was more evident than any show I saw this year. They
followed it up with a very playful BRASS IN POCKET, with CH jutting her ass toward the crowd at "gonna use
my…."! They collectively bowed with joined hands, smiling graciously. What a high!
I think they did 21 of the 25 songs from the set list. We mingled out front, blown away from this awesome show.
A TOTT group picture was taken, which I believe is mislabeled in the archives as Konocti. Some towners went to
the parking lot to drink, some of us went to the tour bus in case the band was cutting out right away. We sat around
an eternity, while chatting with 'outta-Towners'. We invited them to join the list.
I saw Catherine (CH's assistant) and called her over to the imaginary security line. She hugged and kissed me and
said, "I didn't know you were out here, does everyone else know?". Yeah, I said, "Chrissie spotted
me in the front and smiled real big last night. A and A saw me afterwards." I handed her the very last Road
Spider shirt. It was printed on a babydoll tee. "This is for you, Catherine, you earned it!" She went
ecstatic and said she'd put it on right after her shower. I wolf-whistled when she came out later with it on. She
told me Chrissie loves it and wants some, too. I was like "uh, Ok", but I really wanted to keep this
design retired. That may have to change.
Martin came out refreshed and also hugged me and shook my hand. He had all 30 (or so) of our undivided attentions.
His stories were very witty. He even did an imitation of the redneck cabdriver they had at the Gorge in Washington,
"You're our very first customers". He was so fricken funny.
Donna mentioned that they skipped a few songs on the set list. Martin asked,
"We did?", then beckoned us to follow him, "alright, C'mon then!" What a hoot!
He entertained us a good 15 minutes.
Andy came around from the front. He looked exhausted and was not as sociable as he was the night before. He apologized
for being 'el-ayed' out. He thanked us for our support.
Adam, on the other hand, was very energetic and excited to talk with us.
He asked if we were going Konocti. He talked about the menu change, and how they would've 'ACKED!' if they'd have
walked into a beast feast. I pointed out Donna and said she's responsible for getting the veg menu to their attention.
Donna gave Brian O. half the credit for petitioning the venue menu "so you guys wouldn't walk out on us".
Adam said, "Good call!" He talked a bit more, and then started handing out picks, a sign that he's had
Chrissie finally emerged well after midnight. Everyone joined me in a round of applause. I could not help walking
to her. Smiling broadly, I asked her to sign this new tour shirt I was wearing. "Sure!" She glided right
up to me with a big wineglass in her left hand. I wanted to embrace her, but awkwardly recovered when I realized
she was just putting her arm around my waist to face the fans.
I had caused some wine to slosh onto her hand. As if rehearsed, she seductively stuck her finger in her mouth and
sucked the savory wine. "You little tease" I quipped and grinned. She set the glass down and took the
pen. I stuck out my chest like the proudest monkey ever seen, and thanked her again for this wonderful opportunity
(of designing this tours shirt). I watched her face as the pen crossed my heart!
A superfan presented a poster of the Rolling Stone cover from the '80's,
Which Martin had also signed. I knelt down to hold the bottom of it against the wall, silently thanking the Gods
and Goddesses for letting me be this close to this woman's ass. We held the poster up a few extra seconds to allow
the ink to dry. CH stared at Jimmy and Pete the whole time. I said "You look as good now as you did then!"
. She retorted "Well I was a mess then, too, but Martin was a real mess". "Ha! You are so beautiful"
was all I could muster as I looked up at her.
She signed other stuff, including JDW's right arm. (Hey Willie, did you get that tattooed?) They hugged. Then Donna
and Leslie hugged Her as she let some pictures be taken. She continued delighting us with our efforts to wake the
world of eating disorders and such. Then she expressed her dread of the 8 hour bus ride with 11 band and crew members.
Chrissie made a woman turn multiple shades of red when she puckered a long kiss upon her cheek. I hugged her and
whispered "I Love You" as she quickly brushed my ear with her lip. I broke the #1 handshake rule, took
her right hand and kissed between the knuckles of the ring and middle fingers. I wanted to tease her back by slipping
my tongue between her fingers, but I knew everyone was watching and did not. (damn it).
"I'll see you later, tonight!" I said as she turned toward the bus. Chrissie looked back and gave that
incredibly fabulous smile.