What took so long for this story to get out? I heard it for the first time tonight on Laura's show...
Posted on Mon, Mar. 03, 2003
Hynde rages and rules at Warfield
By Tony Hicks
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
SOME MIGHT THINK that by 2003, a Pretenders concert would have evolved into your basic, run-of-the-mill, classic rock show.
That's a good one.
Saturday's show at the Warfield in San Francisco a Pretenders concert, but it was really the in-your-face Chrissie Hynde show in every way, shape and form.
Lead singer Hynde was in a razor-tongued mood, whether the topic was war, sports, dancing, her own sex appeal, meat, or what the crowd looks like. She nearly picked a fight and openly coveted love from a biker.
Hynde is a tad anti-war. She's anti lots of stuff, and isn't afraid to growl about them all every time the music stops.
"Have we gone to war yet?" she asked sarcastically, early on. "We (expletive) deserve to get bombed. Bring it on." Later she yelled, "Let's get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!"
When a crowd member responded to that inflammatory statement, Hynde stormed the mic, roaring, "Shut your face!" Glaring, she held out the mic toward the fan as longtime drummer Martin Chambers stood up behind her, ready to rumble. "You come up to the mic and say something, smart guy," she snarled. "What do you want to talk about?"
The music nearly became an afterthought for Hynde's issues. ("Did I tell you why I hate sports? Because I hate winners and people who have to win all the time.") But remember, Hynde cut her musical teeth in a place where anger and music easily mix. To see a swaggering 51-year-old woman still unfazed by anything in a male-dominated music world is a wonderful thing, whether you agree or not. Hynde's credibility is genuine and rooted firmly in experience (she witnessed the Kent State protest killings in 1970 and later immersed herself in the mid-1970s London musical uprising that helped birth punk rock).
So fans, even the ones Hynde wanted to beat up, probably should have expected her to be charged up these days. That passion gave the classics a shot of adrenaline Saturday night.
Though there were great moments from the newest record, "Loose Screw," especially the ode to junkies, "You Know Who Your Friends Are," the intensity grew with the back catalog. For all her independence, Hynde clearly knows what still brings out the fans. "We're gonna play everything you came to hear," she promised before kicking off "Talk of the Town."
Her voice sounded great, as did the band. Guitarist Adam Seymour shined during "My City Was Gone," with extended and intense leads doing real justice to former guitarist Robbie McIntosh.
Yet it was Hynde getting all the attention. She stopped the band during "Don't Get me Wrong," smiled and said, "See, I can do whatever I (expletive) want to up here." This came only moments after looking along the front row and smirking, "It's not often that we have an audience that's uglier than we are," before kicking into "Back on the Chain Gang."
Once Hynde shut up, the show gained sudden momentum, like a big rig losing brakes halfway down the mountain. There were charged versions of "Kid," "Night in my Veins," and "Precious," then the energy peaked during an absolutely wrenching "Mystery Achievement," during which Seymour coolly channeled the frantic brilliance of late guitarist James Honeyman-Scott.
Hynde wound down with show-ender "Brass in Pocket," putting a period on the point that for all her entertaining swagger and mouthiness, the Pretenders are best when Hynde lets the music do the talking.