The Pretenders with Juliette Lewis & Cat Power – Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, CO

Touring with singer Juliette Lewis and the indie pop Cat Power, animal rights activist and one of the original punk rockers Chrissie Hynde (front woman of the Pretenders) wastes no time in proving to audiences that she’s still got it.

Unlike many of the other “vintage” rock stars (she’ll be 58 in September) she doesn’t simply go through the motions of singing her old hits, instead feeding off the crowd and incorporating material from more recent album like 2008’s Break Up the Concrete.

Juliette Lewis’ half-hour set kicked off with the gritty Purgatory Blues, waking the listeners from their heat-induced naps.


Juliette Lewis

She kept their attention, something “sticky and sweet,” Sticky Honey and two songs from her upcoming record, Terra Ingocnita titled Uh-Huh and Fantasy Bar.

Notoriously shy and unpredictable, Cat Power’s set was on the lackluster side. Perhaps it was the scorching sun mixed with an overdose of plodding cover material (yes, her last record, Jukebox, was nearly entirely covers, but they didn’t translate very well to the stage) or the lack of interaction with the audience (she said hello to a high school friend and then made a quick apology after disappearing from the stage for nearly five minutes) it was an off performance from an artist who is capable of knocking it out of the park.

Cat Power’s Set List
House of the Rising Sun
Woman Left Lonely
Lost Someone
Silver Stallion
Song for Bobby
Lord Help the Poor & Needy
Ramblin’ (Wo)Man
Metal Heart
Satisfaction
Don’t Explain
She’s Got You
I Don’t Blame You

As for Chrissie and the rest of the Pretenders (currently bassist Nick Wilkinson, drummer Martin Chambers, guitarist James Walbourne and pedal steel player Eric Heywood) took the stage as the day was cooling down.

Launching right into Break Up The Concrete and Message of Love, Chrissie stopped to ask how old one of the little boys dancing was, jokingly saying to send him back in 12 years.

She spent some time thanking Juliette Lewis and Cat Power, “awesome girls” and added that since there were quite a few children in the audience, “I’ll try my best not to be my usual obnoxious, crude and vulgar… my kids weren’t allowed to come to my shows.”

She dedicated Kid to fellow founding members of the Pretenders, James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon, saying that none of this would have been possible without them.

As a staunch vegan she commented on the lack of hot dog vans or barbecues, “I thank you for that, from the bottom of my soul, believe me, it could have been ugly.”

Before Back in the Chain Gang she joked that they don’t often see the audience because it’s dark and that everyone looked so cool in their sunglasses but she could do without the baseball hats. She added that it was also partially because they were hungover. “I know we look glamourous and fit, but we’re not. We’re probably not better off than you are.”

The rest of her little interjections between songs included an observation that there aren’t as many great guitarists like James Walbourne anymore, a quick story about being at the amusement park the previous night and riding three roller coasters, and a dedication before Thumbelina about how Elvis had not been able to resist the allure of a hamburger.

Ending the evening with a sweet rendition of I’ll Stand By You and leaving the audience with Middle of the Road, Chrissie thanked the audience for waiting in the sun for them to play and left the stage.

Pretenders’ Set List
Break Up The Concrete
Message of Love
Talk of the Town
Love’s a Mystery
Kid
Don’t Lose Faith In Me
Back on the Chain Gang
My City Was Gone
Angel of the Morning
Rosalie
Don’t Get Me Wrong
Don’t Cut Your Hair
Boots of Chinese Plastic
Thumbelina
Night In My Veins
Precious
Mystery Achievement
I’ll Stand By You
Middle of the Road

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Photos by Nichole Wagner

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