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Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Chrissie Hynde
ALL |

Wednesday night at the Belly Up, Chrissie Hynde showed that a woman who is old enough to be not just a mother but a grandmother can still shimmy, shake, rock ‘n’ roll. At age 57, the founding member of the original Pretenders banged a gold-glittered guitar for the better part of 90 minutes in a show that combined oldies from “back in the day” and new songs from the band’s 2008 release “Break up the Concrete.”

With a band that included another original Pretender, Martin Chambers, on drums, bassist Nick Wilkinson, and the hot guitar of James Walbourne, Hynde put on a performance that, while not particularly inspired, was much better than those played by the vast majority of ’70s and ’80s bands who are still touring. The hits were well received, but the new material, which has a western, rockabilly feel, was solid as well, though the audience, many of whom were Chrissie’s age and beyond, tolerated rather than reveled in it.

But, as always, the best part of any show at the Belly Up was and is the Belly Up itself. It is one of the great venues here or anywhere to see a show. The place is intimate, clean, has impeccable sound and lighting, and is just the perfect room for a kick-ass rock ‘n’roll show or a mellow solo act by an acoustic pro. We are so lucky to live in a town where we not only have a world-class facility but one which continually books the very best legacy acts along with current recording and performance artists.

Wednesday, the show was sold out, but there were a few wrinkles. For starters, the original start time was moved from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. A look around the room at the some of the original Pretenders fans made that seem like a good idea. We’re not getting any younger and an extra hour on a Wednesday night is a good concession.

But in addition to the time change, the kitchen at the Belly Up was closed for business. It seemed odd, what with a packed house on hand, many of whom would have come early to nosh on fish tacos, pizza, hamburgers and such, that the kitchen would be out of order on this Wednesday night. Then it hit me.

Once a raving rocker who ingested in many of the legal and illicit substances that went with the territory for raving rockers in the ’70s, Hynde has gone clean and sober. So much so that her current fashion and passion is for vegetarian cuisine. In 2007 she opened a restaurant in her hometown of Akron, Ohio, called The VegiTerranean and has plans to franchise the restaurant. She is also very heavily involved with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. So much so that a PETA representative was on hand to gather signatures for a petition against Kentucky Fried Chicken’s treatment of birds.

The bet here is that part of the “agreement” with the Belly Up was that the kitchen would not be open so that Ms. Hynde, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, would not have to compete with the smell of frying fish or flesh during her 90-minute performance.

A diva-like gesture, but one a mother has, perhaps, earned the right to insist on.


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