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August 2 - Newmarket - Newmarket Races

by Simon Gadd

A lovely warm summers day, perfect for a evening's racing and a rocking set from The Pretenders, this gig turned out to be the best one yet.

We set off from the B&B at about 5.00 PM all dressed up and ready to get into the members area. It was weird to not to be wearing jeans and a t-shirt for a Pretenders gig, but we all settled for smart casual. Trousers, short sleeve shirt and nice shiny shoes. We booked a taxi to take us there as we were certainly going to enjoy ourselves, Newmarket were laying on a shuttle bus service to get people back from the venue.

The evening started off much better than I could have ever expected. As we were going into the Races just where they were collecting the tickets, I saw a face that looked familiar and had to do a second take. There was Chrissie just standing at the entrance to the races, obviously waiting for someone. I did ask Kim if she wanted to go and say hello, but she opted to go and get the drinks instead, and if it wasn't for my brother in law I wouldn't have approached her either. Well the meeting was very short with her, you know how many times you have worked out what to say to Chrissie if you ever meet her, something cool and interesting, well all that just went out of the window. The meeting lasted just long enough to for her to sign mine and my brother in laws entrance tickets and then it was all over.

This was a surreal gig, it was weird seeing the women in their best frocks and hats and the men in suits, champagne and fine wines on sale and you could buy half a lobster for £17.50, made a change from the usual burger vans. It was also very busy about 19,000 people somebody said. The racing started at 6.05 P.M. and they were six races with The Pretenders coming on at 8.45 P.M., to be fair we only saw one race, in which Kim and I lost our £2.00 bets. We preferred to stop near the bars. Apart from when we went to look to where the band would be.

Then we saw it Martins drum kit glistening away in the evening sun,with that Pretenders logo on it that gives you a warm feeling inside. It was certainly in a weird place actually in the stand, no stage to set up here and space was certainly going to be limited.

As the last race was starting Kim and I decided we better get into position ready for the band to come on after the race had finished. We were nearly at the front apart from two racing officials who were complaining about the noise the band had made earlier in the afternoon at the sound checks. I whispered under my breath to move out of the way and let the real Pretenders fans to the front. While the race was on you could see Adam standing in the background watching the last race, then the race was all over.

It was time for the band, the thunderstorm effect came on and as we waited for the band the tension built up, then they entered the stand,Chrissie coming on last and in the spirit of racing, came on with a brown hat on with a black band on it. Straight into Fools Must Die this in my opinion was going to be a blistering set. I just can't get Fools Must Die out of my head it really is an excellent opening track and really gets the audience in the mood. The rest of the setlist was as the Stately Homes tour with the omission of Everyday Like Sunday, 977 and I think the Homecoming, I really must take a leaf out of LB's book and make some notes on it.

The first set lasted 3/4 of an hour, and the audience loved it, even though a lot of them wouldn't have been able to see the band, with some people sat behind the band and others sat to the left of the band. We were on the grass in front of the stage but out of shouting distance so there was very little audience interaction. Chrissie was quiet but had said that the band had won on the horse's that evening. Taking photo's was made difficult by the railings, but it did provide Chrissie with a few extra dance move, being able to swing her legs on to them. Chrissie was stupendous, Adam brilliant, Martin blistering and Andy solid with his bass. They did two encores the audience was rocking and this was probably the largest audience they had played to for a long while.

At the end of the gig, there was the usual rush for setlist's but I had something else in mind. I'd remembered when Martin had been doing his drum solo one of the drumsticks he had thrown up in the air had landed near the front of the stage, and this was my best chance of getting one, so up the stairs I went, I spotted it and shouted to Wiff if I could have it, and he just handed it over, I have Martins drumstick yeeeeeeesssssssss. Made even more special that it actually does say on it in green writing Martin Chambers and then underneath Save Your Breath and then it looks like a signature but it's hard to tell has it has been worn out.

So an excellent night made even more special by two events, but even without them I'd do it all over again and again, in fact I'd like to make a career out of it.

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