Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders: rock 'n' roll's leading ladies at Golden 1 Center

Stevie Nicks (left) and Chrissie Hynde // Paul Piazza

By Paul Piazza

Two of rock ‘n’ roll’s longtime leading ladies held court at the Golden 1 Center earlier this week. Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders put on an epic rock show that showcased the enduring uniqueness of each of these women as songwriters and performers.

Midway through the raucous opening set by the Pretenders, Hynde paused and showed love to the locals when she said that she really enjoyed the “pretty view of all the trees outside [her] hotel window.”

“It reminds me of a place I grew up in the ‘50s,” she continued. With that, she and the band dramatically bounced into the familiar bass groove of the band’s iconic “My City was Gone.”

Naturally, the crowd knew the words to that song’s familiar refrain (“Ay, oh, way to go Ohio”), as well as the majority of the songs the band played. In fact, the audience, who mostly ranged in age from 45-75, seemed to have the majority of the Pretenders setlist embedded in their DNA. This is not ironic since most of the band’s biggest hits came out during the Reagan years, yet have more than endured the test of time with their wry socio-political-environmental bent that could easily be applied to the times we are about to enter.

Hynde, who turned 65 in September, reminded everyone why she has long been known as a badass as she strutted the stage with attitude and defiance. She blasted a group of cell phone wielding fans early in the show for ignoring her request for no video. When they put down their devices, some hard, punk-style dancing erupted on the floor as drummer Martin Chambers pounded out some hard-hitting beats.

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders // Paul Piazza

While Hynde preferred to let her music do the talking, Nicks took a storyteller’s approach during her lengthy set. Among the many interesting anecdotes the 68-year-old told was a story about hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the first time while driving down the highway as a newlywed. It inspired her to write the song “Stand Back” that same day. Later, when she called the Purple One to ask if he wanted to hear it, he came down to the studio and ended up playing an uncredited synth part that is essentially the catchy glue that propels the song.

Later, during “Edge of Seventeen,” images of Prince were shown on the backdrop. Nicks, 69, also had interesting tales about writing “Gold Dust Woman” as a teen in Arizona and also had a few about collaborating with Tom Petty. But perhaps her most amazing accomplishment that night was being able to twirl and do her signature scarf dance while wearing high heeled boots.

Hynde returned during Nicks’ set for the Petty-penned tune “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a fitting moment as the pair belted out the tune side by side and further cemented their place as two perpetual paragons of rock ‘n’ roll in a year when many of the great ones of their era have fallen.

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