by John Van Leur
The show in Seattle on Sunday night was to be the last of an arduous two month tour across America in the middle
of winter. Almost everyone associated with the tour from the road crew to band management had been sick at some
time and now it was finally ending. Once again, The Pretenders performed at the old Moore Theater and, once more,
they did not disappoint.
The All Mighty Senators opened the show and finished their tour with another strong performance. Although their
show was not received with as much enthusiasm as last night's gig, it was not because of lack of effort from the
band. As mentioned before, Chrissie picked these guys herself and proved, again, that she knows what she's doing.
It seemed as if the crowd was just waiting for The Pretenders to come out and when they did the crowd exploded
staying on their feet the entire night. The band came to play and seemed much more focused than the prior two nights.
It was as if they realized they won't be performing live anytime soon and wanted to just rip one last time. Martin
even made a comment late in the show that you never know what's going to happen as he made motions of having a
heart attack. This seemed to have a chilling effect on some members of the audience as they recalled the deaths
of Jimmy and Pete as Martin appeared to be making reference to. That's one of the reasons I traveled from Chicago
to Seattle to see the band because, as Martin said, you never know. The last time I saw the original Pretenders
was in the middle of winter in Durham, New Hampshire and I went through Hell to get there. It was festival seating
and I was in the first row right in front of Pete. He was at the top of his game and I'll never forget his performance
that night especially his just going nuts on closing backup vocals to "The English Roses". Even if he
and Jimmy had not died, I would have always treasured the trip but their passings made it all the more memorable
and special. So, you know after Martin's remarks, I'm praying that nothing happens to the band (or myself) before
they return to brighten our days once more.
Even though Chrissie didn't talk as much as prior shows, she still had some pretty interesting things to say. She
had been at a protest of a local Kentucky Fried Chicken store earlier in the day. The protest was organized by
PETA and was over the inhuman and brutal ways they slaughter their chickens. She closed by saying "we're going
to get those fuckers yet". She also said that "it was great to close the tour in Seattle the home of
Jimi Hendrix". It would have been greater if they would have performed either of their two covers of the Hendrix's
classics "All Along the Watchtower" or "Roomful Of Mirrors". She looked out at the crowd and
made reference to the fact that it wasn't a sell out. She then proclaimed that "they would never sell out
because the band would not sell out" clearly exhibiting her distaste for corporate sponserships and commercialism.
This brought a wild reaction from the crowd and put the band's feelings in a perfect nutshell.
As she did in the prior two shows, Chrissie brought Zeb out from behind his keyboards to make sure he got proper
recognition from a much appreciative audience. Zeb Jameson is the unsung member of The Pretenders as he has gone
out on tour with them the last six or seven tours, at least. Yet, he is not a full-fledged member of the band.
He does not appear in any CD liner notes or in any publicity photos but he is playing his heart out every night
of every tour. He has his own band in England which is called Ghost. In Ghost, he writes the lyrics, sings lead
and plays guitar. His keyboard work on "The Losing" and "I'll Stand by You" was excellant as
is everything else he does for the band.
Speaking of "The Losing", Chrissie explains that the song is about sick dog gambling and people that
just cannot stop. As most of us know, she rarely explains song's meanings preferring to have people figure out
the meanings for themselves. If anybody has ever figured out the meaning of "The Wait", please let me
know. In the olden days, before lyrics were on the Internet or in CD liner notes, it was quite a challenge to first
decipher what she was saying and next to try to figure out what she meant. People always ask me why I love The
Pretenders so much. There are so many reasons but the biggest are Chrissie's voice, her lyrics, their sound and
music and, of course, seeing them perform live. When they opened for The Stones and tickets were going for face
value at $350 each, I am one of the few nuts that would have paid that to see The Pretenders and would have considered
The Stones a bonus.
The show Sunday night in Seattle was the best I saw on the tour. Adam had the joint jumping during "My City
Was Gone" and I think he even played an extended solo. Martin is "the greatest drummer in rock and roll"
and showed why on every number especially "Middle of the Road". He also handed out about ten drum stick
souveniers after the show probably pissed that he can't shoot them out there anymore. Andy was great as always
and Zeb we already talked about. The reviews in the Seattle papers were very favorable -- one though never mentioned
any one besides Chrissie while the other gave courtesy mentions to Adam and Martin only. One review stated that
Chrissie welcomed the war and that she closed "Night in My Veins" with a powerful harmonica solo while
the other said they did an excellant version of "Private Lives". Since they didn't play it in Seattle,
maybe he heard it at Zak's as I did Saturday afternoon.
I know I haven't talked much about Chrissie in my reviews because I felt it important to give the other members
of the band their due but there will never be another one like her. There is not much I could say about her that
hasn't been said already. There is not much to compare the thrill I get watching her and the band perform live.
Her voice is still amazing after all these years and I really believe she doesn't give a shit whether her records
sell or not for as she said in Seattle "they will never sell out".