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September 3 - Milwaukee, WI - Marcus Amphitheatre


by Kevin Caulfield

Loner/Money Talk/Talk Of The Town/Kid/I Go To Sleep/Popstar/My City Was Gone/Back On The Chain Gang/Night In My Veins/Middle Of The Road/Needle And The Damage Done

Jet lag is starting to kick in. Sleep deprivation and an impending Pretenders show are a very bad mix. I get some sleep and arrive early at the venue. Unlike Tinley Park, a village quite some distance from Chicago, the Marcus Amphitheatre in Milwaukee is nestled between the city and the lake. The buzz is different tonight. These people are content to wait without complaint for the gates to open. Meanwhile the Pretenders wander in from their tour bus, unnoticed by the crowd.

Eventually it's 7.30 p.m. and the band saunter in, Chrissie skanking like there's no tomorrow. Even before they start playing she must sense a hostile crowd, saying "We won't bite. We won't hate you if you don't hate us." And then they launch into Loner, and the same set as last night in Chicago. And they play just as well as last night, but this crowd is either hard to please or just apathetic.

Chrissie again kisses the stage in tribute to Neil Young, and announces Martin's birthday the next day "He'll be 49!" I Go To Sleep is again majestic and beautiful. But Chrissie declares that they won't be singing ballads all night because it was obviously too emotional for her.

One of the benefits of being in the ninth row is that you see and hear the little, subtle things, like Chrissie's off-the-microphone compliment to Adam after My City Was Gone, "Nice solo, Adam."

I couldn't believe that before the band return for the encore the crowd are singing a Neil Young song, even as the band return to the stage. Do they have no respect at all? Again the show ends all too quickly. Chrissie offers to keep playing, doing Neil Young songs - "we can do his whole catalog."

At the end of the show Chrissie lets a moth settle on her hand, shows it to Martin, then lets it fly away.

The band tried like hell, but you know what they say - "don't try to paint your masterpiece under artificial light". Milwaukee, you are not worthy. Before the Pretenders leave the stage Chrissie says "I hope you can see us again next summer." I hope so too!

Just like the moth, I was touched by Chrissie Hynde in Milwaukee, and I left the Marcus Amphitheatre happy in the knowledge that the Pretenders still rock, better than they have for a long time.

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