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The Pretenders Live in Ann Arbor, MI

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Tuesday, March 11, 2003 @ 12:19 AM

The Prenders Live at the Michi

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REVIEW BY: Mark Kaster

On Christmas morning, tears nearly flowed from the eyes of my girlfriend when she opened the rectangular cardboard jewelry box and found, not a necklace, but two main floor tickets to the upcoming Pretenders show on Valentine's Day at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Being a notable female rocker herself, her reaction was a half sobby: "I've always wanted to see Chrissie Hynde." I scored big on this one! Personally, I had visions of finally getting to see a group, which was not on a multi-million dollar sponsored reunion tour… I was going to a real rock show and seeing a band that truly has a genuine rock and roll legacy. It was somewhat disappointing, but in a way which you will probably understand.

First off, everybody in the crowd looked the same. Couples decked out in matching cardigan sweaters, half-balding guys waiting in demeaning beer lines. Not to be too harsh, but I guess I had dreams of jeans, t-shirts, and the aromatic swirl of marijuana smoke emanating from every direction. I felt like I was at my kids parent-teacher conference meeting. The sign above each of the venue entrances read "no smoking, no food, no drink." We were very nicely ushered directly to out seats by a nice guy with a flashlight. It was just like boarding an airplane.

Chrissie sure is sweet, I must admit. She looked fantabulous. SHE was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And I'll tell you something else, she looked damn "cute". The first three tunes were new ones and I was really into them, though the crowd was a bit miffed and offered only polite applause. They paid big bucks for this show and it could have gotten ugly if it weren't for the turn of events, which came with the fourth song. Thankfully she ripped into "Don't Get Me Wrong" and the, ahem, "kids" went nuts, right on cue. From then on it was exactly what the crowd paid 40 bucks a ticket to see - The Pretender's playing karaoke to Pretender's songs. Chrissie was in a pleasantly joking mood and commented numerous times about getting old, not getting richer and the funniest remark, I thought, was when she promo'd the new CD "which no one will buy.” And she's right, I suppose. It was kind of a downer because we both were really intrigued by the new songs, they were very ambient and had subdued beats and good lyrics.

I walked out about three songs before the encore. Not because Pretenders weren't putting on a hell of a show, but I just kind of got tired of 2,000 people standing at the same time, sitting back down at the same time, and getting excited over nothing but the past hits (of which there are many). After all these years, Chrissie Hynde is still a punk at heart and it is nice to see some semblance of heart in the otherwise pool of heartless veteran performers who are only concerned with massive ticket sales and lining their pockets on the public's nostalgia.

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