When Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders are the opening act, you know you’re in for a heck of a show—and that’s exactly what the nearly sold-out crowd at Vivint Arena got on Saturday night.
The hard-rocking Hynde & co. spent most of her hour-long set with a guitar in hand, playing a selection of new songs and Pretenders classics. It’s notable that one unfamiliar with the band could probably not tell their new stuff from the old—all are infused with that Pretenders sound formula of heavy bass, catchy hook. And speaking of Trademark, it was clear that Hynde’s vocal range is as good as it’s ever been as she stood on the stage moving in that aggressive, come-at-me-bro Chrissy Hynde way—wide stance, feet slightly pigeon toed, head cocked and arms out. There’s no doubt that she’s as hot as she’s ever been.
And—the woman who, 30 years ago, bemoaned the Ohio landscape becoming strip malls in “My City is Gone” had some things to say about Salt Lake’s urban planning. A passionate defender of animal rights, vegetarian, Hynde told the arena that she dined at Zest, downtown’s vegan bar and went to a movie during her day in Salt Lake. Then she said, “Salt Lake City, I must say, is on the up,” the crowd cheered. “More vegetarian food, more cool little places,” she explained, “And I bought a Stella McCartney jacket—so I’m happy!”
By the end of her set, Hynde and her band played all of the Pretenders best-known songs, closing with a booming, energetic “Brass in Pocket,” earning them a well-deserved standing ovation.
About 20 minutes later, Stevie Nicks came on the stage looking just like you’d expect her to look—in black head to toe, with high heeled boots a asymmetrically hemmed dress and, of course, fingerless gloves. She carried a tambourine adorned with long ribbons in the crook of her arm that she used intermittently through the night.
Right after her first song, “Golden Braid” she addressed the elephant in the room. “I actually lived here, and I loved it!” she told the crowd, who surely already knew that Nicks, who moved around often as a child, attended junior high in Salt Lake. And she mentioned twice during the show that her best friend from that period was at the show.
The point of this tour was to pull out what Nicks called “New old songs,” from her “gothic trunk of lost songs” and so nicks spent most of the night as a storyteller, walking the crowd through stories of her times with Fleetwood Mac (“I was still a waitress and a cleaning lady, and I had a Toyota Corolla with no reverse. And all of a sudden I’m flying first class and riding in a limousine—I never thought I’d do unless I was the one driving it.”), as a solo artist (including that time Prince came by to record a song he’d just learned she’d written based on his song “Little Red Corvette”) and, believe it or not, the Twilight movies (saying that she was “thoroughly and completely in love with the love story of Bella and Edward”).
Three songs in, Hynde was back on stage for a rousingly fun rendition of the Nicks/Tom Petty classic “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” during which, Hynde had to point Nicks towards her mic when it was her turn to sing. “We have so much fun,” Nicks said after, “That we forget to sing our lines.”
After “Bella Donna” Nicks told the crowd that royal blue cape she’d quick-changed into was the original Bella Donna cape, as a photo of her wearing it when the song was first released showed on the screen behind her. “My mother, if she were standing here, would fall over if she knew how much it cost. It was $2,000, it’s made of silk chiffon!” she told the crowd. “But look at it. Not even a loose thread anywhere. So, you take $2,000 and spread it over 30-something years—now, all of a sudden, if my mother was standing here today, she would say, ‘That was a very good choice of fabric!’ ”
It was one of many capes she’d donned through the night—and no one wears a cape like Stevie Nicks.
After a jam-session-inspired “Gold Dust Woman” Nicks and her band came back onstage for a two-song encore, and she told the arena, “What a trip it is to come back here… I just might have to get a place up in the mountains. I feel really connected here, and that’s important.” The crowd roared.
Everyone loves a homecoming and a good story, and Salt Lake got both Saturday night.
—Photos by Stuart Graves