Main Menu



September 6 - Albuquerque, NM - Mesa Del Sol Amphitheatre

by Jerry Elmas

Great set from Chrissie and the band last night. Like the comments of so many others, I would have liked to see a longer show but obviously this cannot happen as the opening act.

Set was tremendous with Chrissie and band all looking energetic and obviously enjoying themselves. Chrissie made reference to her upcoming birthday today and from the sound of it, she is quite comfortable with being in the "sunset" of her 40's. I'm only a few years behind her and for me her energy and spirit are uplifting.

Band was tight as always and the repartage between band mates was positive all night long. Simply put, The Pretenders were a great band last night. This is quite a departure from the band I saw back in February in Austin when everything seemed to go wrong.

Chrissie was especially gracious all night. Of course, she kissed the stage that Neil Young was going to play on. You know, I feel like people have made light of that gesture and maybe think of it as contrived. I must take exception with that. The way Chrissie came off was that she was genuinely respectful and in awe of Neil Young and his body of work. Set opened with "The Loner" and ended with a far too short version of "Needle and the Damage Done". What higher compliment than to open and close her portion of the bill with Neil Young songs.

Anyway, an enjoyable set entirely and for me the absolute highlight of a purposely planned business trip to Albuquerque. Set list was:

The Loner
Money Talk (Incredibly well done; did they play it in 1994?)
Talk of the Town
Kid
I Go To Sleep
Pop Star
My City Was Gone
Back on the Chain Gang
Night In My Veins
Middle of the Road

Encore:
Needle And The Damage Done Chrissie closed by thanking the crowd for coming early to see them. Nice thing to say I thought. As for Neil Young............ excellent. Why did I wait so many years to see him?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

by Chris

This started out to be a fairly prosaic review of the Pretenders concert in Albuquerque. ("The Pretenders were really good, but played much, much too short a time. Neal Young was better than I expected. I love Chrissie Hynde, even if I'll probably never even shake her hand.") I kept adding on more and more personal stuff and observations. "LB"s wonderful essay in the "Fan's" section made me strive to write more than just a straightforward recital of the events. That is largely why I haven't sent this in until two weeks after the concert was over. At times some people may think I'm being too personal, and I interject a few rabelaisan remarks. However I have added "*"s in the critical areas, just so that I don't offend. (But only if you've spent your entire life in convent school.) It may ramble on and shoot off at tangents, but except where I am deliberately being humorous, it is sincere and from the heart:

"MY FIRST TIME" (No, Not that kind of "Time") PRETENDERS AND NEIL YOUNG, SEPTEMBER 6, 2000; MESA DEL SOL AMPITHEATER, ALBUQUERQUE

When I first heard over the radio that there would be a Pretenders concert, it immediately got my attention. The radio announced it just as a "Pretenders" concert, where previously it had been listed before as "Neil Young" without any mention of the Pretenders. This is why I hadn't picked up on it before.

This was my first live Pretenders concert. It is my great loss that I never became familiar them when they first started. I wish I could have seen them when the original band was still around. Their more popular songs, like "Middle of the Road", have always been my favorites. But over the last few years, their songs have started taking on new significance to me, that the writer probably may have never intended, but that means a lot to me. Their lyrics and philosophy seem to be a very intelligent.

And their music is beautifully crafted. The group does beautiful guitar work, such as the guitar in the closing of "Chain Gang". And there is the guitar making the outrageous "beep-beep-beep" sound like a car horn on "Middle of the Road".

Chrissie's voice is multi-talented, ranging from her beautiful, plaintive, almost child-like lilt in "2000 Miles", to her guttural cat growl in MOR. In "I Go to Sleep" her sultry voice is full of pain, longing, and lust, almost like Marlene Dietrich (without the accent).

They used to be ONE OF my favorite bands. Now, particularly after the concert, they ARE my favorite band.

I agonized considerably over whether to go, because I knew my wife usually doesn't like bands with female lead singers, but I knew that she would insist on going anyway. She feels like she can't let me do anything without her. That's my life...I became independent of my parents, then I met her, and wound up in an even more repressed state. (And alimony runs a lot now days.) Then there are times again when she can be very affectionate and vulnerable, so I'm pulled both ways. One psychiatrist thought she was a schizophrenic, but she refused to take the written test, so she has never been formally diagnosed. She is so dependent that I worry what would happen to her if I did leave her. Oh well, "It's a thin line between love and hate". (I couldn't resist, even though musically, it isn't one of my favorite Pretenders songs. But the lyrics do speak to me. But my wife isn't at all like the patient, long-suffering woman in the song.)

I went back and looked at the "Good Morning America" (?) show I had taped from a year ago where Chrissie and the band appear to promote their new album "Viva de Amour". They only did two songs, and a lot of the audience was less than wildly enthusiastic. But, once I saw Chrissie singing, looking better than ever, I knew I would have to go see them. I went back and found the tape of "Isle of View" I had taped off PBS, and watched it too. I asked my "Inner Voice" (No, I don't actually hear it speaking, but I do get strong feelings sometimes.) what I should do. I got an answer back, "Yes go, it will be really good, and something that even effects your life might happen." Now, more often than not my inner voice is just B.S.ing me. Sometimes it can even maliciously lead me into trouble. ("Yeh, the shortcut down the cliff is the "fastest" way back to camp. Trust me. Hee, Hee.") But on serious matters, it often tells me the right thing.

I went ahead and ordered the best seats available, without telling my wife. The little wench always opens all my mail anyway, so a few days later she called me at work asking "Did you order some tickets for NEIL YOUNG?" The tickets didn't even mention the Pretenders. Section 3 (In the front, but to the side), Row N (Hmm... 13th row back. Respectable, but not killer seats. Especially considering the first sections are only 28 rows deep, with the private boxes behind them.) A quick call to the amphitheater revealed that the Pretenders were indeed on the show, but opening for Neil Young, and weren't the head liners. OH S***. That meant that if I was lucky they might play for only an hour, plus maybe one short encore. I told my wife that I had ordered the tickets over the net, but thought I had cancelled them. (A lie meant to placate her.) She kept nagging me to send them back, saying they cost too much and that we had just been to see The Who, and Jimmy Cliff (does anyone out there know who he is?) before that, etc. Finally I told her that I was keeping the tickets, that I really liked the Pretenders and I really wanted to see them. More flak about spending too much money, she didn't like the group, going to too many concerts, etc. etc...

Since I had to work the next day, I said that I only wanted to see the Pretenders, and we would leave before Neil Young came on. That way we could avoid the crush of cars exiting the show after the Neil Young's last encore. The last time we were at Mesa del Sol, it took us 45 minutes just to get back out to the freeway. We discussed another option, staying until just before the last encore by Neil. The tickets cost a lot, and we wanted to get something for our money.

I used to love Neil Young's old stuff. I still go into a trance-like-state when the long versions of "Cinnamon Girl", "Cowgirl in the Sand", etc., are played on the radio, not very often anymore. But he became too whiney for me about the time he did "Southern Man" and "Alabama". I was born and raised in the North. I've always thought that all people should be treated equally based on their effort, ability and merit; even if there're purple and have a horn in the center of their head. If they're friendly to me, they're my friend too. But I've known several people from the South, and they were for the most part decent. None of them asked me if I would help them put some tar on their cross so it would burn better. It isn't fair to paint such a large group of people with such a broad brush. Also, some videos I'd seen recently of Neil Young gave me the impression that he was a whining, egotistical, self-satisfied little prig who was still stuck back in the late 60s. Well, after the concert, I like him at lot better. (So you see, I can be open minded.)

"Old Yeller", after patiently transporting us back from "The Who" concert a couple weeks before, had proceeded to vomit about three quarts of anti-freeze onto the driveway (after her engine had already been shut off). So we decided to rent a car. Old Yeller hung in there until she had gotten us safely home. Long may you run, Old Yeller. By renting a car we wouldn't have to worry about breaking down and missing the concert. Anyway, considering the 90-plus degree heat, we thought it would be better to have something with air conditioning anyway, so we could arrive rested with a good mental attitude to see the show.

Wednesday night at about 4:45 we started out across the high desert for the two hour drive to Mesa del Sol. All the way, my wife made sarcastic comments about my "Just wanting to look at Chrissie's Hynie", which she seemed to think were tremendously clever. Even though I was only going to see Chrissie from a hundred feet away, my wife acted like I was having an affair with her. (Yeh, right, Chrissie mailed me her hotel keys. And after that, I'm going to the next room and having a manage-a-trois with Julia Roberts and Darryl Hanna. Would you mind waiting in the Hotel parking lot for a couple hours, Dear?) My wife is jealous of any women I as much as say good morning to...

Halfway, my wife began complaining she had to go the bathroom, so we stopped at The San Felipe Indian Casino. While my wife spent 10 minutes in the bathroom (She always spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom.) I pretended to play the slot machines. I nervously waited for her to get out while a hostile-looking Indian cop watched me. I usually don't gamble, it seems pretty pointless to give all your money away to the casino, which is what you are really doing if you play long enough. But I played four quarters, and b*gg*r me if the machine didn't pay off $1.50. My net gain: $0.50. The Indian Cop decided I was a legitimate gambler, lost interest in me, and wandered off. I decided to quit while I was ahead, but played one more quarter, bringing my net gain down to $0.25. (Was THIS why my inner voice had said I should go?) Finally, my wife arrived. Back on the Interstate, 20 minutes lost. This was normal for a trip with her, and I took it in stride.

Still 10 miles north of Albuquerque, we hit a line of traffic backed up where the freeway narrowed down to one lane, apparently all the way into Albuquerque. Oh S***! Oh double S***! Oh double S***, with whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate topping! It took us half an hour to go what should have taken five minutes. Now we where running late. To add insult to injury, the radio announced there would be a third group opening at 7:00, with the Pretenders coming on at 7:30. We could just make the Pretenders, but would not see much of the first group, who we'd never heard of anyway. (After the fact, I found out it was "Tagan and Sara".)

After finally getting through the bottleneck, we went pretty much unimpeded until the exit off the freeway. We took an exit that was supposedly a short cut, that would allow us to go straight through a stoplight instead of waiting for the left turn signal. When we got to the light, there was a line a half mile back from it, and the traffic going straight through wasn't moving any faster than the traffic coming onto the highway from the left turn lane. Oh triple S***, with 90-weight gear oil and diesel fuel poured on top! Some idiot, with a "hardly" motorcycle and a babe hanging her butt off the back, though he was really cool, and insisted on blocking one lane and moving 10 mph slower than the rest of traffic. We finally blasted around him to the right. Another 15 minutes, and we where finally through the light, and cruised along the winding road up onto the mesa and out across the desert towards the amphitheater, along with several thousand other souls. There is a desperate need for Mesa del Sol to have it's own exit off the freeway.

We arrived at the parking lot. Oh quadruple S***, lightly garnished with rat hairs! The parking lot had cars parked in it all the way back to the back row! The parking lot extends out only to one side of the amphitheater, so we were in for a quarter mile walk. Resigned to my fate, I turned into the lot and waited to be directed to our parking space. Then, a strange thing happened (Usually, if it's something good, it is strange.) We drove further and further down the center aisle. No one directed us off into the side lots. Some people, obviously having a realistic attitude, turned off anyway. I couldn't believe it, someone was bound to tell us we would have to go back. Finally, THREE ROWS FROM THE FRONT (!!), a guy with batons in his hand waved us off into the lot, and another guy waved us right into a parking space. This saved us something like 10 minutes of walking all the way from the back of the lot. Finally my Karma (at least for this evening) was balancing out! Why we had been so lucky, I don't know. We speculated that maybe they held some space up close for people arriving late. Why the all people were parked out in the far distant outback, if they could park up close, was a mystery. Maybe they were all feeding their wive's bodies to the coyotes. (Maybe I missed my opportunity.)

We rapidly exited the car with barely a glance around us, and started off towards the entrance at a near run. My wife would have probably tried to stroll, but she knew I wouldn't have waited and would have just left her there. Security was relaxed, they waved us through with checking us. We got in the gate just in time to hear the first group do their last number.

As many of you probably know already, if you're going to a concert with 3 different groups playing, with one band you've never heard of "opening for the opening band", the first band is probably going to rot. Unless their previous numbers had been real killers, (And usually a group will try to open and close with their best numbers) this group was no exception. We dubbed the two young girl singers the "Olson Twins". They seemed to rely on their "cuteness" rather than any perceivable music talent. Later I found their web-site, and I found out that they are so young they don't even have driver's licenses. So, we probably hadn't missed much.

My wife had to use the bathroom again, and I ineffectually admonished her to try not to take more than 10 minutes. Fortunately the bathroom wasn't very crowded, and there wasn't any line. Then we tried to get something to drink. Out of a machine, cokes where costing $3.50!!! We also got "mini-pizzas", not much bigger than a large breakfast roll, with a teaspoon of tomato sauce on top, and two greasy slices of pepperoni, not much else, for $5.00 each.

We went and found our seats. To my moderate delight, I discovered that "Row N" while being the 13th row back in the center section, was only the 9th row back in the sides sections, due to the way the front of the stage curved around. The audience consisted of the typical mixed bag of older and younger people. There was a somewhat larger faction than usual of "old hippies", complete with tie-dye shirts, pony-tails, and greying beards. Most of them were probably there to see Neal Young. Put them all together, and you could stage a "Jerry Garcia Look-A-Like Contest."

One thing that amuses me about concerts now days is you will see these old guys in their 60s, who look like business men, looking pretty well off, wire rimmed business-type glasses, short haircuts, nice nylon jackets. 30 years ago, you would expect people who look like this to be telling you that Rock n' Roll is a communist conspiracy, or how it causes young innocent girls to lose all inhibition and ruin themselves for marriage. (The second part is true!) He would be telling you that Lawrence Welk is an example of good music; and how we young people shouldn't pollute our minds with such trash, suitable only for the "inferior races". (Yeh, right. Be sure you don't burn your fingers when you light your cross.)

Then the music starts. Hey! What is this? The old guy is jumping up and down, dancing all over the place and jostling the people next to him, screaming at the top of his lungs, yelling (Well, at least at "The Who" concert:) "Smash your Guitar!, Smash your Guitar!!" Well, all Chuck's children are out there playing his licks. Long live rock and roll. Rock, rock, rock and roll. The memory is there, body and soul.

Two creepy biker-types in leathers sat down next to us. They proceeded to start smoking (tobacco) cigarettes. Probably afraid of being groped or worse, my wife asks me to trade places so that she won't have to sit by them. Now I have to worry they might grope me! (At one point in the show, Chrissie also made a comment to the effect that there were a lot of bikers in the audience.) From somewhere else, the odor of herb wafts to our noses.

Only a couple of minutes after we sat down, the band came on stage. We had timed it just right. Chrissie lead the band out, with her guitar held at arm's length. She paused for a minute, scanning the crowd. It seems she was looking for somebody. Old friends? Regular fans, who she would recognize? A relative, or part of her entourage, who is in the audience? Or, maybe she is just sizing up the general makeup and mood of the audience.

I stared at her, hypnotized, like a deer in the headlights. But there was no terror, only fascination. Right then, there was only her face, and nothing else. It was like there was a tunnel between her face and mine, and all the audience, and even the rest of the band, didn't exist. Suddenly, her eyes locked onto mine, 100 feet way, and in a crowd of thousands of people. She looked right at me, for six or seven seconds, but it seemed like an hour to me. A quizzical look formed on her face. Did she know me from somewhere? Was I someone who she should know? Then her expression changed. A slight smile curved on the side of her mouth. It was a reassuring smile, as if to say "No, I don't know you, but I can tell that me and my music really important to you, and I'm glad you came to see me." A few seconds and it was over. Later I mentally kicked myself that I didn't raise my hand in a casual greeting, to see if she was indeed looking at me, and if she would respond. BUT I KNOW SHE WAS LOOKING AT ME. I know that she appreciates her fans and wants to know what they think, and is concerned about them, at least to the extent she could be about thousands of people.

"LB" and the other people who have talked to her at length will probably think I am silly to feel so elated over such a vague, brief look. Sure, she could have been looking at any one of 50 other people. Or, maybe she was just staring in a de-focused way at the entire crowd. But in my heart, I know she saw me. A strange feeling had that I have seldom had came over me. I was transmitting to her at full power. And it was a big transmitter, the kind that beams out across the entire continent. But the antennas were all aimed at one point in space, Chrissie. There was something very intense coming out of me.

Do you know the old trick (?) where you are sitting in an auditorium, and deliberately look at the back of someone's head. After a few seconds or a minute they will start getting antsy, and finally have to turn around to see what is behind them. Is it just that they are picking up subtle clues from the other people around them, that they are being looked at? But the other people aren't looking at you either. At least with their eyes.

Just a few seconds later, my gaze happened to fall briefly on the back of a girl's head, 5 or 6 rows ahead. Almost instantly her head snapped around. Her eyes instantly met mine. She looked alarmed, her muscles stiffened, and she began to rise in her chair. Sorry girl, I forgot to switch off my transmitter after beaming at Chrissie. We are now closing down on this frequency, and will be rotating our antennas away from you. Please sit back down and relax. "X-files" stuff? Crazy? (Probably) Am I telepathic? (Doubtful) Is Chrissie a telepath, and was she drawing my thoughts into her, instead of my sending them to her? (Who Knows?) No, I don't think that I'm the "Voice of America", and that I have a transmitter inside my brain. Well, at least not the kind with coils, capacitors, and transmitting tubes. So far, they haven't been able to diagnose me as schizophrenic. (Despite their best efforts.) But the girl DID turn around, and she did look right at me, and she did look very alarmed. There is something more inside us that most of us are aware of.

(Or the again, maybe Chrissie looked at me and thought: "Oh Jeese, that guy is really staring at me, and he isn't smiling. Oh no, another stalker. I hope he isn't going push his way past security and attack me right on stage. Oh god, I hope they were checking for weapons at the entrance gate tonight.")

Chrissie told us that it was her birthday the next day. She told us she would be 49. She looks really good. She looks better than she did 20 years ago, from the pictures I've seen back then. Maybe it's the vegan diet. (I've never had the willpower to start one.) Maybe it's because she no longer uses drugs. (It's just my speculation whether she ever did. But considering what happened to many of her compatriots, it's possible/likely.) Maybe she's satisfied with her current husband and her now nearly-grown children, and her contentment shows. I already knew it was her birthday, having read it on the web. It would have been easy enough for me to have printed out a "Happy Birthday Chrissie" banner. Then, if she looked my way I would know that she had probably seen me. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. But then my wife would be jealous and have ranting fits for the next five weeks.

At one point during the concert she bent over to show us her butt. (No, she didn't moon us, she kept her pants up.) She said something to the effect that her slim build is the result of her vegetarian diet. Way to go, Chrissie. The positive sell will get a lot more converts to your cause than telling people to go F*** themselves because they eat hamburgers. You should be appealing to people's sympathy for the animals and their suffering, not alienating them by insults because they are still eating meat. Eating meat is the way most of us were raised. It's a hard habit to break. Many people have never thought about where it really comes from.

Chrissie also bent down and kissed the stage, saying that she worshiped the stage that Neal Young will be singing on. (I have heard she has done this at several concerts on the tour.) I find this dismaying. I don't think the Pretenders should have to admit inferiority to any band. I might even speculate that Neal is only letting them play the same venue with him because he has insisted on top billing. I would have liked to have heard at least two hours of straight Pretender music instead of Neal Young.

The Pretenders open with a fairly straightforward cover version of Neil's "The Loner". I felt disappointed that they didn't do a Pretenders song. I came to hear PRETENDERS MUSIC. Now they are cutting them back even further. This is clearly Neil young's show, no wonder it didn't say "Pretenders" on the ticket. Still the song is enjoyable and well done.

Having heard what a dynamite drummer Martin is, and wanting to see the whole show, I tried to take my eyes off Chrissie and watch what the other band members were doing. For the faster numbers, most of the audience was on its feet, clapping and cheering. There was an especially enthusiastic group in the first two or three rows right in front of the stage, dancing like maniacs. At one point, Chrissie leaned over and gave some guitar picks to them. The sinister bikers sitting next to us disappeared after about three songs, never to return. Did they have free radio station tickets, so they didn't care? Or were they just so indifferent or so zonked out that they didn't care about the money they had spent? Maybe they sell drugs, and have money to burn. Anyway, all the more room for us.

My wife continued to sit, with a sullen expression on her face, not bothering to get up to see the band when the people ahead of us stood up. She had a particularly bored expression, like she was listening to an especially boring lecture. It seemed to be deliberately affected. My wife didn't want me to see her getting any enjoyment out of the show, at all. Her loss. I ignored her and enjoyed the show.

They did another song I don't know (after the fact: "Money Talk"), and then "Talk of the Town". Then Chrissie does a dedication to James Honeyman-Scott, and they do "Kid" in his memory. I am elated. The song has a special meaning for me, that Chrissie would never realize, although it is also in regard to a lost loved one. Their only other song I like better is "Stop Sobbing", also for my own personal reasons. Maybe I'll see all the original Pretenders together again on the next plane of existence, along with Janis, Jimi, and Jerry. (Chrissie has edged above Janis on my list of favorites. Janis could belt them out, and was smart, but I think Chrissie may be even more intelligent. Chrissie's voice is more versatile, and quite a bit more subtle.) I don't know all the details of how you were involved with James, but I know you miss him very much, Chrissie.

Chrissie does her sultry "I Go to Sleep", full of longing and loneliness. Then they do another song I don't know.

They finish with "My City was Gone", "Back on the Chain Gang", "Night in my Veins", and "Middle of the Road". I am really starting to like "Night in My Veins" with its happily suggestive lyrics about the use of various automotive vehicles in order to improve your physical relationship. The other three are classics, often played together back-to-back on the radio here. If they hadn't played anything else than these three, I would be happy. (But not ecstatic.)

Then they came out for an encore. I am hoping they will do "Stop Sobbing". Please, Please, Oh Please. Oh no, what's this? Another straight cover of Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done"! When Chrissie sings the lyrics "I sing the song because I love the man. I know that some of you don't understand." is she referring to Neal? I feel a little bit disgusted. I came to see the Pretenders. I didn't want the whole show to be for, and about, Neil Young. Neil Young may not be playing for Coke, but it looks like the Pretenders are playing for Neal.

The crowd tried to get the Pretenders out for second encore, but it was obviously a lost cause. After a couple a minutes, the crowd died down, resigned. It is obvious that a second encore had not been scheduled, and that the intent was to move along to Neal Young.

All told, the Pretenders played for maybe 40 to 45 minutes, including the encore. But two of the songs were Neil Young covers. I was overjoyed at seeing Chrissie and the Pretenders, but really bummed out by their notably short performance, even for an opening band.

I briefly considered trying to get behind the stage to see the band and Chrissie. But Mesa del Sol is a "new generation performance center" laid out with security in mind. All the performer's facilities are behind the stage. There is chain link fence that blocks off the entire compound behind the stage from the seating area, rest-rooms, and food vendors. There are big burly security guards in tee-shirts standing by any feasible entrance point. The performers get into their vehicles inside the fenced-off compound behind the stage, and then the vehicles drive up a road out of the amphitheater, and out to the freeway, without having to stop on the way, at all.

I think there may also be a road that runs north from the amphitheater, across the desert directly to south side of the Albuquerque Airport, which is only a couple miles north of the amphitheater. (It is entertaining to watch the planes arriving and departing while waiting for a concert to begin.) This way, the performers can go directly to or from the airport without getting on the freeway at all. I am going to check this road out some day.

We took a break and went out to use the bathroom. One nice thing about Mesa del Sol is that there are rest rooms and snack facilities on either side of the stage. If you don't absolutely have to look at the performers, you can relieve yourself or get a snack, while still being able to hear the music. And off to the sides, the music is soft enough so it's possible to converse. But their food and drink prices are outrageous, so you want to eat before you get there.

We came back to our seats just as Neil Young was coming out. He looked pretty old and burnt out, with a lot of gray hair. If I saw him on the sidewalk without knowing who he was, I'd probably think he was a vagrant, and cross the street to avoid getting hit up for money, or worse. But, to his credit, I personally think, he seemed rather humble and unaffected, especially compared with what I had expected.

Neil started out with "Motorcycle Mama", a song I wasn't familiar with that, and that didn't seem to have particularly meaningful lyrics. Maybe all the bikers were there to see Neal. (Later, he also did "Unknown Legend" about a girl riding her "Hardly" motorcycle in the desert, with her long blonde hair blowing in the wind.)

Then Neal went into "Powderfinger" which I didn't know either, but later found out is one of his mainstays. I liked "Powderfinger" better, as it raises a lot of mysterious unanswered questions about what is really happening in the song's story.

Neil sang many songs, several that were old standards from the late 60s and early 70s that I recognized, and just as many that I didn't know. (But then I haven't been following him much lately.) My wife began showing signs of life, and actually seemed to begin enjoying the show for the first time, when he did "Daddy Went Walking", a patently S***-kicker (traditional country hoe-down) number that still was nevertheless enjoyable.

The flavor of his music was more acoustic and soft than I was expecting. Several of the songs had a traditional country feeling. It seems like he has become less arrogant, and adopted a more humble attitude, at least for this concert tour. But unfortunately there were also less of his long, mind-altering jams.

While Neal Young was singing, I saw a large white limo roll drive up the hill a few hundred feet to the side of the stage, and up out of the amphitheater. Goodbye Chrissie, goodbye Pretenders. Hope your next Venue is a good one. I hope to see you again someday, when I'm able to come again, and you're able to play for a couple of hours.

After about an hour of Neal, we left to beat the rush. I was actually beginning to feel some regret, as I was starting to enjoy him. We walked out during the start of "Words", which turned out to be a long jam. It had to have been long, he was still playing it when my wife got back out of the bathroom. As we walked up the hill out of the amphitheater and out the gate, he began playing "Harvest Moon". While it wasn't really crowded going through the exit gate, there was as steady stream of people leaving early. (To beat the rush?)

I later found out he only played two more songs, plus two encores. One of the encores was "Cowgirl in the Sand", which I love even to this day. Oh S*** (But only a single scoop, without any topping.)

Amazingly, we found the car almost immediately, despite our mad dash into the amphitheater when we came in. The traffic was light going out the access road to the freeway. Despite assurances earlier that day that the freeway would be open, we were detoured off onto a side street and waited well over half an hour to get through a long back-up of cars. We were almost 3 hours getting home, and I didn't get to bed until 1:30, on a night, when I had to get up at 6:30 the next morning. (Yeh, I know, if I were a real Pretenders fanatic, this would be nothing.)

As a side benefit of the concert, I now am starting to like Neal Young more than I did, and might even get one or two of his albums. The last album of his that I have is on reel-to-reel. (Do any of you know what "reel-to-reel" is (was?), kiddies?) So you can see, it's been a long, long time since I've listened to him much.

I am getting the Pretenders albums that I still don't have. I am ordering "Pretenders" and "Pretenders II", with their earlier stuff. Now I will get to hear some of the lesser-known songs for the first time. I am even going to try to track down the album with the original Kinks version of "Stop Sobbing", since I found out that they did it before the Pretenders. If there is a Pretenders concert anywhere within a 500 mile radius of here, I am going. (Particularly if they are going to be the main headliners so that I can see them for more than 40 minutes.) The main problem is finding out in time enough to get good tickets. I think I will ditch my wife and go by myself, so that I will be free to enjoy myself and express myself without feeling like I have a repressive parent looking over my shoulder all the time.

Chrissie is the one and only true goddess.

back to top of page