Live review: The Pretenders, Juliette & the Licks @ Denver Botanic Gardens at ChatfieldBy | August 25th, 2009 | 12 comments
Looking and sounding as great as ever, Chrissie Hynde led the Pretenders through a 75-minute set at a less-than-full Botanic Gardens stage at Chatfield on Saturday. Photos by John Leyba.
Chrissie Hynde took the stage at Denver Botanic Gardens on Saturday in a pinstriped vest, black tie, skin-tight jeans, thigh-high leather boots and a lime green tuxedo coat complete with tails. As the band launched into “Break Up the Concrete,” the heart and soul of the Pretenders started belting out the title track from their latest critically acclaimed record.
Still preternaturally thin and sounding as good as she did in 1978, Ms. Hynde will celebrate her 58th birthday next month. Looking up at the sky as she dedicated the song “Kid” to her original bandmates — James Honeyman-Scott, dead at 25 in 1982 of a drug overdose, and Pete Farndon, dead at 30 a year later also of drug-related circumstances. “Put the kettle on for us boys, we’ll be seeing you up there soon,” she said.
Not too soon, I hope.
At 6:30 p.m. when the band came onstage, it was still 93 degrees on the Chatfield grass; no trees, no tents, no misting machines. The consensus for beating the heat seemed to be frequently returning to the lines at the numerous beer and wine concession stands.
As the sun finally went behind the stage and the temperature dropped to a more comfortable 90 degrees, the well-lubricated crowd started to expend some energy dancing to “Message of Love.” A large number of the poorly-sold showing of 1,600 had been there since 3 p.m. to see Juliette Lewis and Cat Power before the headliner. The Botanic Gardens has been attempting to make its Chatfield property a viable concert venue since the first show there years ago with Jackson Browne, to mixed success.
But back to the Pretenders: Hynde sang “Back on the Chain Gang,” “Back to Ohio” and a cover of “Angel of the Morning.” An eclectic crowd ranging from 4-year-old boys to grizzled bikers (men and women) in their 70s, the Pretenders’ universal appeal is still alive, and the band closed the show in record time — 75 minutes including an encore of “I’ll Stand By You” and “Middle of the Road.”
The Botanic Gardens still has some work to do if they are going to improve ticket sales at their Chatfield venue. Getting some shaded areas constructed, putting in a misting tent and doing something about that nightmare of a parking lot is a start.
Go here for John Leyba’s full slideshow of the set.
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Sean Kennedy is a Denver-based writer and a regular contributor to Reverb.
John Leyba is a photographer for The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.
MORE PHOTOS: Juliette and the Licks