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February 15 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre

by John Van Leur

Driving back to Chicago from The Pretenders show in Ann Arbor the previous night, I was wondering how the band could top the show they put on in the Wolverine state the night before. The thouight occurred to me that it had been so long since I'd seen the band headline a show that I might have been lost in the euphoric sense of the moment especially after seeing them perform over twenty songs the night before. Anyway, I promised myself that I would try to view their Chicago preformance with a more critical eye, paying more attention to detail and to try to provide an unbiased review of their performance. So here goes.

Unlike Michigan, The Pretenders concert in Chicago had sold out for about a month. The band has always done well in this city plus they had a strong promoter in the local radio station (WXRT). They played at a restored movie theatre (the Chicago Theatre) and Chrissie seemed impressed that Sinatra had preformed there mentioning it during the show when the band ended " Don't Get Me Wrong " with a strong jazz rendition of the closing verse. Tickets were hard to come by and it was good (and bad) to see the scalpers doing a decent business outside.

Once again, The Almigthy Senators opened the show and they mixed up their set list a little bit from the previous night. They closed with a powerful cover of " Gloria " and proved their point, again, that it's best to arrive early to catch their act. As Chrissie mentions during The Pretenders' set that she personnally chose this band to open their tour dates.

I know most people come to Pretenders concerts to watch and listen to Chrissie and most would be hard pressed to identify another member of the band with the exception of Martin. I know that is not true of the fans who visit this website and that is why I'm going to continue to rave about Adam. For the second night in a row, I was just completely blown away by Adam's performance. I was fortunate to have a seat facing stage left so I was almost directly in front of Adam. The crowd in my section was just going nuts after a few of his solos. You can just see the love he has in playing and to feel the passion he puts into his work can not be properly descibed in any eloquence that I could attempt to muster in this review. You can feel the sadness on his guitar in " The Losing " and then experience the uplifting reggae riffs on " Complex Person ". He takes the raw energy that Jimmy used on the first two albums and uses his own drive and power to propel " Precious ", " Up the Neck" and " Mystery Achievement " to levels they have never been taken to before. I know I said I'd try to be unbiased in this review so I hope others will contact this website to confirm what I'm writing about Adam.

As for the rest of the show, Chrissie was awesome as usual. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand from the beginning and she knew it. She didn't even bother fucking around with the crowd much with her much supported anti-war views as she did the previous night in Ann Arbor. The band had the crowd up most of the night unlike the semi-stoic first twelve rows in Michigan the prior night. The new material was well received and she dedicated " Biker ' to Joe Strummer which she didn't do last night. As always, " Kid " was dedicated to the memories of Pete and Jimmy. In the electricity of the show, she completely forgot to introduce Andy and Zeb who performed exceptionally as always. Andy, again, led the crowd in a clap along to " My Baby " as Chrissie and Adam throughly enjoyed the moment together at stage left. It just seems that Andy goes somewhat reluctantly out there as he does try to avoid the limelight and is perfectly content to let the others bask in the spotlight. It even seemed like Zeb was in a spotlight a lot even the times when he wasn't doing much. Mr. Chambers, again, drove the whole show with his relentless and tireless pounding of the beats that have made The Pretenders' music so unique.

After kicking ass with " Precious ", Chrissie clearly called an audible and had Martin launch into " Middle of the Road " to keep crowd momentum at a peak. However, when it got to her harmonica solo, the instrument wasn't working properly and she bounced it off the stage in disgust. Kenny scurried out with a new harmonica which she promptly took and proceeded to blow everybody away.. For the first encore, I believe they did four songs { " I'll Stand By You ", "Kid ", "Stop Your Sobbing " and " The Wait " ). " Kid " and " Stop Your Sobbing " were not done in Ann Arbor and " Sobbing " was tremendous to see performed live once more. For the second encore, the great " Mystery Achievement " was followed by the signature "Brass in Pocket ". The crowd had been on their feet for almost the entire last half of the show went crazier when Chrissie vowed that they would return soon. It will never be soon enough. So, I'm off to Seattle to catch the closing two dates of this great tour.

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