by Scott Groginsky
On the cold, damp night of September 20, 2000, Chrissie and the Pretenders warmed us all in her opening performance
for Neil Young before 9000 plus fans at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado. Chrissie showed again why she is a rock
and roll legend and an energetic live performer. Her band belted out classic Pretenders (and Neil) tunes, proving
that they are still in their prime. Because of Chrissie's genuine delivery, stage presence and rock talents, the
Pretenders were an ideal opener for Neil. She started by kissing the stage in honor of Neil Young (I saw her do
this in 1987 after Iggy Pop opened for the Pretenders), again paying respect to and honoring her musical peers
(if I was performing on the same bill as her, I'd kiss the ground that she plays on).
We got there early to get a great view from the lower pine tree area (about row 13). Generally, Chrissie made a
lot of contact with the crowd, looking at people on all sides of the amphitheater and dancing in her stylistic
way. Her guitar jamming supplemented the lead guitarist nicely and added that raw rock sound that characterizes
the Pretenders' quality of transcending different musical eras and categorization. Martin Chambers was very enthusiastic
and his drumming sounded as crisp and strong as ever.
They began with a jamming version of one of Neil's great songs, The Loner. Many in the crowd who may not have been
familiar with the Pretenders livened up immediately. She followed with a high-energy version of the brilliant Talk
of the Town. Most fans seemed surprised when she kicked it in after the long pause. Kid was again dedicated to
Honyeman-Scott and Farndon, and the emotional way Chrissie delivered the lyrics really brought out their spirits.
Needle and the Damage Done was powerful and again caught the attention of the Neil faithful. Pop Star was awesome.
Night in My Veins was very rockin' and Chrissie gave the finger to the crowd during a line about eating red meat.
She played an emotional Back on the Chain Gang and again demonstrated her sincerity in the way that she sang the
lyrics. She seemed to be a bit sarcastic when she commented that Akron was a great place to live prior to jamming
out a powerful My City Was Gone. This song is so right on and this version was superb. Mystery Achievement, an
epitome of a classic rock tune, was spectacular and got everyone moving. The crowd was highly vocal in calling
the Pretenders out for an encore and Middle of the Road was excellent, fast-paced and soulful. Chrissie came out
with Neil on an outstanding All Along the Watchtower. Neil sang the first verse, Chrissie the second and both sang
the third verse. They jammed on their guitars facing each other through most of the song and the crowd went nuts.
Chrissie and the Pretenders played their hearts out during a raging set and showed us all why they are one of the
most jamming, honest rock bands of all time.