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March 7 - Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre

by Brian Giffen

An impressive evening from Chrissy and Co. The band hit that sweet spot between tight and relaxed; they seemed to be truly enjoying themselves on stage and the capacity crowd responded warmly. After securing prime seats at the beautiful QE and surviving a nearly fatal brush with the geopolitics of restaurant booking, my companion and I settled in just as the lights went down.

Highlights

-Chrissy's voice, better than I've ever heard it

- the end of Up the Neck, I could see Honeyman Scott's ghost smiling down as the band pulled into a power circle to take this chesnut home

-Rebel Rock Me, some exceptional playing by Adam S on this one

-Middle of the Road and Precious had that old punk spike and intensity

Lowlights

- a lot of the new material just died, especially the Akronesque reggae stuff.

-Mystery Achievement and Brass in Pocket were basically mailed in

-too many older songs cut out of set


The show was under two hours and frankly although the band seemed to enjoy the evening they also seemed to be trying to move the set along. Changes to playlist from last review at this site that I noticed

-Chain Gang out!

-Thin Line out

-Kid out

Special credit to sound crew - best sound I've heard literally in years, particularly the clarity of Chrissy's voice. Beautiful mix and very little distortion.

Suggestions - judging by the age of the core audience for this group, Chrissy should consider an earlier start date for the set than 10.30 at night. Like she said, we're all getting older...I also would have taken five minutes less banter in exchange for The Wait.

But that's nitpicking. A very entertaining show from the queen of power pop and her court.

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by Jonathan Wu

Before I start the review I have to say Pretenders has once again proved rock'n roll is alive and well. Maybe it isn't the kind of rock music the teenagers nowadays bang their heads to, but Chrissie Hynde and the rest of the band members had put out an honest, down to earth, live performance that pleased an almost sold-out crowd in Vancouver on a Friday night. Pretenders have always been an open-minded band that is not afraid to experience different styles and expand their taste. In their latest release Loose Screw, Chrissie and the band have incorporated reggae with mixture of rock and pop to create a fresh, stylish music that has kept the Pretenders going after 23 years. It is exactly why the band has continued to live on despite deaths and line-up changes in their career.

Tonight at Queen E. Theatre, I am among a lucky crowd to catch The Pretenders for the first time. My good friend and I decided to get some drinks before the concert therefore we missed the opening band. However, once we got to the venue I can feel the energy of the crow is all over the place. A quick look around I found out that we were perhaps the youngest people here; the average age of the crowd is around 35 to 45. The band went on in the dark just right after I got to my seat. Man, it was a hell of good seat: 20th row from the centre stage. They kicked off with their new song Lie to me, and I had to say Chrissie looked fantastic! She looked like exactly she did 20 years ago, amazing. Lie to me was a good song to start off a concert with its raw and powerful energy. Right after the song Chrissie said it was good to be back to Canada and greeted the fans. She then took off her jacket and received a wild response from the crowd. You could imagine how well she looked. Anyway, the band started playing some songs from the new record including The Losing, one of my favourite on the new album. From the cheering I could tell the audience loved the new record. Once again Chrissie had took some time to talk to the crowd. She said we were sitting down the whole time because we were getting old, and she said she understood because she was getting old herself. The crowd then started to stand up from the front rows to the back. (It was funny to see how we were all embarrassed when she said that). Then the band started playing Talk of the town, one of my favourite. Then you could see the whole crowd was dancing alone with the music. During the whole concert Chrissie was constantly interacting with the audience, and it was interesting to learn that she hated sports. At one point she asked us what is the sport up here(Canada), and she said 'You all play hockey? Well, fuck you!' and the whole crowd laughed. I thought that was hilarious. She then asked us to request a reggae song then the band started playing Complex Person. Chrissie danced during the whole song and apparently the crowd at the front row totally followed her. Also, she dedicated a song to Joe Strummer who she said inspired her to rock.

Besides Chrissie, the band played very tight and really rocked out. The new guitar player Adam totally rocked out during couple songs like Mystery Achievement and My city was gone. I had to say he was a very good guitar player with a really good guitar sound. Drummer Martin and the bass player Andy were very tight as well. The whole member was introduced by Chrissie before they played Biker, and the crowd gave them a lot of cheering. Overall the band sounded amazing; plus Chrissie's vocal was so clear and well balanced with the rest of the band that it was something I never heard of in other live concert. Perhaps it was the acoustic of the theatre that contribute to the sound, but I was extremely impressed by Chrissie's vocal and her ability to recreate the same voice as it was on the records. The band then played one encore with Brass in pocket, definitely my favourite song, to finish up the whole set. What a great show they put on! By the end of the concert, everyone was cheering and waiting for another encore but the light went on shortly after the band said goodbye. Although it was considered a short concert compared to other cities with only one encore, it was well worth the money and time to see a true rock'n roll band like Pretenders. Chrissie showed no signs of subordination to men in rock'n roll and she kept on doing a wonderful job as a songwriter and a performer. With a strong, versatile new album, I believe the Pretenders will continue to carry rock to the future. Thanks to Chrissie and the rest of the band for a wonderful night in Vancouver.

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by John Van Leur

When I drove by the Queen Elizabeth Theater on the afternoon of the performance, I noticed there was no mention of The Pretenders performing there that evening. I walked around the theater and did notice a small flyer confirming the fact that the group was scheduled to play the venue that night. However in looking through the Vancouver newspapers for Friday, I found no mention of their performance. This proved to be an omen of things to come.

For some reason the show did not start until 9:30 P. M. which is late for most people's standards. I guess they were giving people enough time to figure out that The Pretenders were in town. Unlike Chicago where ticket scalpers were doing a good business, the scalpers were taking a beating in Vancouver as nobody showed much interest. PETA was there but, again, not much interest was shown.

All Mighty Senators opened the show and despite another strong performance, they were unable to get much of a rise out of the audience. This carried over into intermission as the Senators stood in the lobby to talk to "fans" and possibly sell CDs but they were virtually unnoticed. Another bad omen.

When The Pretenders took the stage, it was past 10:30. They sailed into "Lie to Me" and the crowd just basically sat there. It did not even appear they were moving much in their seats. Chrissie was on them also from the beginning with biting comments like " I know we're playing to older crowds but this is ridiculous ", "I used to get pissed off when people didn't get up but now I don't give a shit", "you paid good money for your ticket so you can sit there all night if you want but I'm gonna have some fun and dance all night " and " I'm not worried we'll have you all up at the end".

As for the show, it was much looser than the two I had seen in the Midwest. The band members were joking with each other all night with Chrissie and Adam continuing to fuck with Andy by having him lead the clap along to "My Baby" for an extended period and by not joining in timely as Andy lays the initial bass line in "My City Was Gone". Andy just kept on playing until they eventually joined in. On the stage, Andy gives the appearance that he may be somewhat aloof or disinterested with his sad sunken eyes and his avoidance of the spotlights but he is anything but that. It has been my great privilege to have known Andy Hobson for about eight years and he is without a doubt one of the finest people I have ever met. My wife always coos that "Andy is soooo nice " or " Why can't I be more like Andy"? I've seen Andy go out of his way to do things for people who don't even know who he is. He sacrifices his own time to ensure that others are having a good time. I am not a music expert but, as far as I can tell, I have never seen Andy screw up once on stage. A friend once told me that good bass players are "a dime a dozen" and to prove his point he cited how long it took The Who to replace Entwhistle on their recent tour. BUT the Who were not the same without John, just as The Pretenders would not be the same without Andy. It may have taken him a little time to establish his own niche but he definitely has. While Andy may not have the cool and charisma of Pete or the style and substance of Malcolm, he does play a great bass making all other members of the band look better while sacrificing himself. You rarely see his name mentioned in any review but his bass is as important to the band as Adam's guitar, Martin's drums or Zeb's keyboards. So, please forgive me for losing track of the review in praising Andy but any fan of the band knows what I am writing deserves to be said.

The biggest rise out of the crowd during the first two-thirds of the show was when Chrissie went after the Americans as a prelude to "Fools Must Die". Her proclamation that "they're all going to die" was well received by the Canadian crowd although I do believe there may have been some members of the audience dead already judging by their lack of reaction to some of the band's songs. A couple of the Senators finally helped to get the crowd going by cutting out the bottoms of their beer cups pretending to use them as binonculars during "Don't Get Me Wrong". Chrissie, apparently happy for any type of crowd reaction, played this one to the hilt by singing directly to the Senators for an extending closing of the song. She did a dedication for Joe Strummer before " Biker " stating that the song was not written for him but very well could have been. She also said "she looked forward to joining him soon". As promised, everyone was finally up before "Precious" was over. They closed the set with "Middle of the Road". They opened with "I'll Stand By You" but then decided to do only one encore instead of the usual two as in most concerts on the tour. They finished "Mystery Achievement" and "Brass in Pocket". The one encore could have been punishment for the crowd being so lame or because Chrissie was not feeling well. Anyway, Martin confirmed that it was the first time ever he was not the last one off the stage when Chrissie lingered a little longer than anticipated. It was a very different show for a number of reasons but an interesting and enjoyable evening. After the show, I did meet the man next to me who was one of the few up for most of the show. His name was Kevin and he had flown in from Calgary for The Pretenders. He loved "Up the Neck" and was envious I would be seeing them the next two nights in Seattle. He renewed my faith that some in Canada loved the band but I still couldn't wait to see them back in the States.

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