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March 1 - San Francisco, CA - The Warfield

by Alison Chaiken

Tonight's show was a lot of fun. The band was as loose as I've ever seen them, although Martin was surprisingly subdued -- no on-stage sparring with Chrissie. The Warfield was sold-out and the Pretenders seemed to be enjoying their indie-label freedom to do whatever they pleased. Chrissie was especially off-color and combative and seemed to be just plain having a good time. I wish I could remember even half her remarks. Chrissie played more solo guitar than on any tour since _Pretenders II_.

Below I'm giving my best attempt at reproducing Chrissie's remarks. I've got the wording wrong for sure, but the sentiments are correct.

Setlist:

1. Lie to Me
2. Message of Love
3. My Baby
4. Talk of the Town
5. You Know Who Your Friends Are
6. Time the Avenger
7. Up the Neck
8. Fools Must Die
9. My City was Gone
10. The Losing
11. Biker
12. Complex Person
13. Back on the Chain Gang

1st encore:

14. Don't Get Me Wrong
15. Kid
16. Rebel Rock Me
17. Night in My Veins
18. Tattooed Love Boys

2nd encore:

19. I'll Stand by You
20. Middle of the Road
21. Mystery Achievement
22. Brass in Pocket

The evening opened with the All-Mighty Senators, a five-piece funk band that's channelling Lenny Kravitz. They're not half bad and worth showing up a bit early to see. The band members were having a good time with the audience, many of whom were dancing.

The Pretenders came on as strains of what sounded like a horror movie soundtrack faded out. Martin wore a sleeveless fatigue shirt, Adam wore his usual shades and Chrissie wore a suit jacket, jeans, and a black t-shirt with a tie loosely draped around her neck. After "Lie to Me" ended, Chrissie came out with the usual "We're glad to be back in San Francisco with our message of love." Chrissie introduced "You Know Who Your Friends Are" by saying it was about quitting drug use. Around "Time the Avenger" and "Up the Neck," she made some comments about the (presumably) upcoming war, saying things like, "When the bombing starts, we'll deserve it," and "I hope the Muslims win," which was received with actual boos.

Before "The Losing," Chrissie commented that she doesn't like sports or sports fans and that the Pretenders were losers and were proud of it. "Biker" was dedicated to someone named Clay Wilson, who is according to Chrissie a biker, a vegetarian, religiously devout and in love with her. She commented unfavorably upon San Franciscans who are ignorant about Clay Wilson, although I must admit I'd never heard of him before. (As far as I can tell from Google, he is an underground comic artist.)

In the middle of "Complex Person" Chrissie exclaimed, "Oops, I'm supposed to be doing a reggae dance! What the fuck, no one else is doing it." I've been chuckling about this remark all evening, as it was so spontaneous.

"Kid" was as usual dedicated to Pete Farndon and James Honeyman Scott. "Rebel Rock Me" was dedicated to Joe Strummer. "Middle of the Road" started with the typical Martin Chambers drum tricks, although he missed three high-thrown drumsticks in a row. In general he seemed to be having an off night. During an early break when Chrissie was apparently having a technical problem with her monitor, Adam made a few halting remarks, finally desperately asking Martin if he had anything to say, which surprisingly he didn't. I guess Martin's getting old. Most of us are not far behind. His drumming at least was up to his usual standard.

"Middle of the Road" had the lounge music interlude, introduced as "the Mighty Senators version." "Mystery Achievement" featured the dances that were introduced on the _Last of the Independents_ tour.

All in all, the Pretenders had a good night for showmanship and musicianship. Adam's playing as always was great, and for once Chrissie made a real instrumental contribution. A keyboard player named Zeb was invisible from where we were standing, but came out and made a bow to us obstructed viewers. The audience didn't dance as much as one would reasonably expect, but cheered, stomped and clapped along appropriately. The show was at least as enjoyable as those on the _Viva El Amor_ tour and, as always, it's great to see the band in a smaller venue.

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by Paul Kiefer

What I learned last night is that done up live and in person the Pretenders is one bad-assed protest band. We stood on the floor before the stage, as close as we wanna be. It's a breath of fresh air to see a strong tough bitch who ain't afraid to speak her anti-war and anti-mediocrity mind. "I hope the Muslims win!" Chrissy said at one point, and a sympathetic but complacent San Francisco audience egged her on. "Where are all the bikers?" she said before the awesome balad "Biker." "San Francisco used to be full of bikers, or have you all gone yuppie?" Here's an interesting fact Chrissy: San Francisco is indeed full of rowdy biker, gay, leather, alternative types, but most of them wern't at the Pretenders show. Instead there was a tame forty-and-fifty-something crowd of aging yuppies, which I just can't understand. Considering how brutal this band is they should of been elected South-of-Market's banner band, they should be heading San Francisco's Dyke March!

One note - both the bass player and the keyboardist are extremely CUTE!

During the first part of the show Chrissy was constantly acting like there was something wrong with her guitar and fiddling with it and the backstage people. We don't know if there was something wrong with her guitar or if it was an act, but either way her behavior distracted from the songs and annoyed us. But what finally came through in the preformance was a fine execution of great, classic Pretenders tunes. And entertainment, I suppose, was the real purpose of the evening, regardless of the politics.

I'd like to end on what stunned me most about the show: "The Losing." It's an awesome song with my new and most favorite lyrics ever. "What's so great about winning?" said Chrissy and I love it. It's not about winning - a war or otherwise - IT'S ABOUT THE LOSING.

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by Eddie Bell

I woke up this morning with a Cheshire cat type grin on my face and the echoes of a soundtrack to what was another incredible show by the Pretenders last night.

Chrissie and company took to the stage at the 81 year old Warfield Theatre promptly at 9 p.m. and went through an impeccable 25-year career in just under two hours.

The beautiful layout of The Warfield, with the seats in the balcony and the downstairs allowing for a dance-floor like area in front of the stage gives an up close and intimate accessibility to the band. Fortunately, I was a mere twenty feet from the stage.

From the opening number 'Lie To Me', until about thirty minutes into the show, Chrissie was visually irritated from having some difficulty hearing from her right ear monitor. This did not hamper the mix from her and the band, but the sound technicians were definitely scrambling to correct things.

They kicked into 'Message Of Love' and replaced the Bridget Bardot line with an acknowledgement to The Plasmatics lead singer Wendy O. Williams. Continuing with a new tune 'You Know Who Your Friends Are', where she asked the audience if they had any experiences with junkies, they then captured the crowd as they jammed through some old favorites, 'Talk Of The Town', 'My Baby', 'My City Was Gone', and two personal favorites that I haven't heard live since the Get Close tour, 'Time The Avenger' and 'Up The Neck'. Due to unfortunate situations, not age, I missed their first three US tours.

By now, the monitor situation did not go away, when, in true rebel form, Chrissie angrily told a "heckler" that if he had something to say then he should get his "motherfucking ass up to microphone and say it", I believe this shut him up. Either the problem was fixed or it was time to just play music.

Not being hindered, the Pretenders kicked through their incredible repertoire of songs. 'Back On The Chain Gang', 'Biker', 'Fools Must Die', 'Don't Get Me Wrong', which took on a different flavor with a jazz inspired final verse, and of course 'Kid' which is always dedicated to Pete Farndon and James Honeyman Scott.

Chrissie then mentioned the loss of one of her inspirations and original rocker, Joe Strummer, and proceeded with a rockin' Clash number. The opening act All Mighty Senators also dedicated a number to Joe with a dead on rendition of 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go'. This is one band not to miss, with a drummer as the lead vocals and a two-man horn section, All Mighty Senators are definitely influenced by Sly and the Family Stone; Prince; Red Hot Chili Peppers; & Beck.

After a beautiful 'The Losing', things kicked up a few notches as Chrissie, Adam, Andy, Martin, and Zeb launched into 'Night In My Veins', then, what I was screaming out all night, 'Tattooed Love Boys' followed by 'Precious'.

The Pretenders joined hands downstage for a much-deserved bow and acknowledgement from the grateful fans in attendance, and then offstage they went.

Moments later the band returned for the first of two encores.

First up, Chrissie lead the crowd into a semi sing-a-long with their hit "I'll Stand By You", Martin then began the recognizable drum beats of the raucous "Middle Of The Road", blaming the audience for distracting him while fumbling to catch his drumsticks when they came spiraling down after tossing them into the air, he still kicks ass, during the count you could hear many of us at number five, with the woo, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, while others continued the seven count. Chrissie was flawless on the harmonica solo. Again, they joined hands and off they went.

Returning to give us more, Martin started with another distinctive drum beat from 'Mystery Achievement', while Chrissie showed us her dance moves from the 60's, she shimmied, did the hitchhike, the pony, and the swim. Finally she asked if there was time for one more, everyone agreed that there was room for more then one.

They segued into 'Brass In Pocket' with acceptance by the screaming full house, took their last bow of the night and thanked the house saying that they would be back.

The Pretenders are the most talented, well-oiled machines in rock, and I make it a priority to see them every time they come through town, as I have done for the past 20 years. San Francisco knows how to welcome a class rock and roll act and last night was no different.

Thank you Pretenders for another memorable evening.

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by MarkPerini

I saw the Pretenders for the 4th time last night, at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. I had seen them previously in 1984, 1987 and 1998.

I stood in line to get a good spot, and was standing in the second row of people, about 1 person to the left of center. So I was about 10 feet from Chrissie.

The opening band was the Almight Senators. The lead singer/drummer had a lot of pizzaz, but overall, it just sounded like another flavor of punk/funk, without any memorable tunes.

The Pretenders part of the show was very good, but it started a bit raggedy. There was something wrong with Chrissie's guitar transmitter during the first song, and she went over to the road crew to change it, and snatched the replacement out of the crew members hands. Then Chrissie had ongoing problems with her ear monitors. In between singing verses she'd back away from the mic and yell at the road crew to adjust the mix in her ears. It was distracting to her, and distracting to me. About 30 minutes into the show, Chrissie just stopped the show, and had the lights brought down, so that she could go change her ear monitor gear. One guy leaning on the front rail yelled out to for Chrissie to say something into the mic. She wheeled around and charged the mic and told that guy to "Fuck Off". Then she went back to the roadie, and still mad, came back up to the mic and yelled "Come on up here now and say somthing into the Mic, smart guy". She was really pissed off. To the hecklers credit, he pointed his beer bottle at Chrissie, and was hooting. She spotted him...I bet if it had been 20 years ago he would have gotten a boot in the face.

I definitely would not want to be one of the Road Crew following that show.

I'm not good with remembering set lists, but I'd say it was pretty similar to other set lists from this tour. They played for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Mostly hits and well known songs. They played one song as a tribute to Joe Strummer..I didn't recognize the song.

Being so close to Chrissie, I was taken by how much of her delivery is done with a snarl. She goes back and forth from snarling to smiling. She's also doing these sexy moves with a look that says, "hey guys, the joke is on you". Sort of like an agressive Mae West on Meth.

Chrissie noted that woman on the front rail had a button that said "Fuck War". Chrissie said that was not enough, and she could not wait for this country (USA) to get bombed and for the bullets to be flying. Okaaaaay.

Once Chrissie's ear monitor problem was fixed, or alleviated, the band settled in, and it was a good show.

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