The Pretenders appeared as an opening act for the Rolling Stones in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Friday, September 20, 2002, at the First Union Center. Lead Pretender Chrissie Hynde was sporting a new band, featuring drummer Martin Chambers, bassist Andy Hobson, keyboardist Zeb Jameson, and guitarist Adam Seymore.

     Their abbreviated setlist resembled a greatest hits lists, which was a good way to remind everyone how prolific and popular this band has been in its past. Hynde's singing sounded strong and her guitar playing was solid. She led the band through a workout that was wildly received by the Philly audience.

     Hynde launched her set with the rocker, "Fools Must Die". The band stood in front of a large curtain that acted as a chameleon canvass with stage lighting projected upon it to alter moods or change both colors and shapes. Without any video monitors or technical wizardry, the band became the sole focus of those present.

     Following "Message Of Love", Hynde exclaimed, "Thanks for coming to see us so early, so much so, I'll show you my tits!", which generated cheers and applause. However, she only removed her sliver sequined jacket. The Pretenders were anything, but pretending. The sound was crisp, the band was tight, and Hynde was enjoying a golden opportunity to open several early dates on a media-hyped tour.

     "Not bad for a toothless, bearded hag, huh?", was the same retort Hynde had remarked on air during a radio interview earlier that same day. The pleasant pop-rocker, "Talk Of The Town", had an extended pause in it towards the end of the piece. The rhythm guitar-chug of "Don't Get Me Wrong" incorporated a loose country-guitar solo by Seymore.

     The rough guitars of "My City Was Gone" crunched away on the melody as Hobson laid down a deep bass line. Seymore's plinking guitar solo added embellishment to the tough take, which was cheered on by the house. "I'll Stand By You" began with a piano intro by Jameson. Hynde sang the power ballad, and then strapped on her electric guitar to join in on its big finish.

     "Alright, who's gonna dance with me?", Hynde demanded as she begin a wild gig center stage. the band lerched into "Mystery Achievement" with Seymore tearing off a fierce lead solo. Chambers let loose with a drum solo that segued into the drum intro of "Middle Of The Road" at a slightly quicker tempo. Hynde wailed a harmonica solo coda for this intense version, which received a standing ovation.

     The Pretenders 1980 single, "Brass In Pocket", closed their set. Hynde sans guitar sang the lyrics of this solid rocker with harmony vocal support. Amid appreciative applause, the band took a bow and disappeared without an encore. The Pretenders turned in a strong performance.

First Union Center setlist: Fools Must Die * The Wait * Message Of Love * Talk Of The Town * Don't Get Me Wrong * Complex Person * My City Was Gone * I'll Stand By You * Chain Gang * Night In My Veins * Mystery Achievement * Middle Of The Road * Brass In Pocket

RockonTour   Issue #13
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Dr. Rocker & Ms. Hynde
A warm reception welcomes The Pretenders

by Timothy Tilghman