The Pretenders, at Louisville Memorial Auditorium, Louisville Kentucky [September 4, 1980] “The Preface”

 

This appearance, I call “The Preface”, because this show would lead to a longer story, much of which takes place on the next U.S. tour, in 1981.  More on that, in another post….some time from now.

Back to Louisville, we go, for these photographs.  I had briefly mentioned how great a venue Louisville Memorial Auditorium was for concerts http://www.louisvillememorialauditorium.com/index.aspx, and this performance would be one of the most satisfying I have seen there.  Anticipation had been building, as the band was getting decent airplay, and to top it all off, this would be another of WLRS FM’s “$1.02” shows [their FM signal being 102, on the dial – remember those on your radios?].

The afternoon of the show, I went to the backstage load-in area, in my routine attempt to ask for permission to photograph the evening’s performance, but on this occasion, the security staff was waving off anyone who did not approach with proper credentials, and with some sense of seriousness about it – unusual for this particular venue.  With no luck on that front, I made up my mind to get the camera in, anyway, and take my chances.

Much like the Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers‘ show, a couple of years before, I decided to go for seats on the left side, facing the stage, and managed to secure a good position in about the 4th row.  I always preferred to shoot from this side, so as to get the guitars in frame, without them blocking the musicians’ faces, as a rule.

This night, I had come prepared to take a lot of pictures, as I was a huge fan of the first lp, and was keen to try and capture some good images.  As luck would have it, the stage lighting was a bit brighter than usual, and since I was budgeted to using black and white film, this worked out quite well, as I could not use a flash, for fear of being detected taking the photographs.

Within a couple of songs into the set, I was detected anyway, by Chrissie Hynde, who stared long and hard in my direction, as you can see from the photos, but I was fortunate that no one was sent to investigate. So, I would take a couple of frames, and put the camera and zoom lens out of sight for a bit, and then take it out for a few more snapshots, and repeat this sequence, until I ran out of film.

The set did not disappoint.  Personally, it lived up to my expectations, and more, and when the show was over I decided to try again at the backstage area, to try and meet with the band, in an effort to get an address that I could forward the photos to them later, in some form or fashion.  Fortune smiled, because just as I circled back, the band was coming out, and I was able to briefly talk with Ms. Hynde, who was actually quite laid back about me bringing up the subject concerning my taking photos on the sly.  I explained that I had tried to find someone at about sound-check time, but had been waved off.  To which, she explained that this was on the band’s order, since she was receiving friends and family from Ohio and the Kentuckiana area for the show and her upcoming birthday, and didn’t want to be disturbed.

She also explained that she did not particularly like to be photographed, but that if I wanted to send them some examples of the results, then I could contact them at their London offices.  She gave me their card, which was postcard-sized, with an image of all of them lined up along a wall, but with only their pant legs and boots showing [packed away in storage at the moment…but I will share it someday].  This conversation lasted about 5 minutes, and then a smile and goodbyes all ’round.

This would lead me to keep in touch with the office, by “snail-mail”, about tour dates, the photos, and even fielding a request from their secretary, for a Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds album she could not find in the U.K. [I did locate it for her, as I was a vinyl hound at that stage in my life, and she was very happy about that].

A selection of these photographs would not be seen by the band, until they returned on their 1981 tour of the U.S., when I would travel with some friends, to Nashville, and our paths would cross again, and the second part of this story will unfurl.  Until those photographs are ready, I hope you enjoy these:

The band during an instrumental phase of a song. It was rare for me to be able to capture the whole group during many performances, but on this occasion, I would get a few frames like this

Early in the set, before the white jacket would come off. I’ve still got my Pretenders’ handkerchief, by the way

My camera had been noticed by this time

The late, great James Honeyman-Scott soloing, or rhythm-riffing here on a Zemaitis guitar, with that trademark etched, metal face

 

The other tragic figure from the original lineup, Mr. Farndon would occasionally step into the spotlights, but he was usually found in the lower lighting near the amps, as in this frame

One of a few frames taken during a solo section, which I am quite please with, as the lines and image have some great balance here

Notice the set-list in the background…you can almost make out a few songs

This time a profile view of Mr. Honeyman-Scott and his Zemaitis guitar

A series of frames from “Brass in Pocket”…..

Chrissie Hynde with James Honeyman-Scott in the shadows

Pete Farndon adding the backing vocal lines, and in the spotlight, with his “gunslinger” pose

Martin Chambers, in one of my best-ever drummer shots. I would strike gold again with an image of him, on the ’81 tour, in a color photo

Another decent “group” shot, especially for catching Pete Farndon in action

Perhaps my favorite frame from the entire show. These two leaned on each other, in a musical sense, and this is near perfect in illustrating it, in my humble opinion

Keep an eye out for the 1981 tour photos, when my story in pictures and words, continues………

A useful website for lots on The Pretenders:

http://www.pretendersarchives.com/MainMenu.html

Some information regarding Zemaitis Guitars:

http://www.zemaitis-guitars.com/

NOTE:  A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE WATERMARKS ON MY WORK

While many of you who arrive here, to look at these photographs may get turned off to my use of watermarks [thinking they ruin the image], let me explain why I choose to do this.

No one paid for my camera equipment but me. No one paid for the film I used to take these photographs.  On occasion, when I free-lanced for a free monthly newsletter, and they published a photo of mine, the payment for each photograph barely paid for the fuel to get my vehicle to the show [when I *did* have a vehicle], and the film I used on that night. 

Not too many of my photos were published, at the time, because the artists I chose to capture images of, were not hugely popular then.  Hence, the old dictum, “Supply and Demand”; I had the supply, but the demand [pre-Internet], was not there. You can argue the relative merits of the quality of my work, and that is precisely what a blog offers:  a venue for discussion.

Back to the watermarks: no one is subsidizing my time to scan and then clean up the images I am presenting here. Start to finish, each negative will take approximately an hour-and-a-half to reach “proof” quality – which is what you will see here.  This is my labor of love, and until there is some measurable return on my efforts, what you see is what you get.

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8 responses to “The Pretenders, at Louisville Memorial Auditorium, Louisville Kentucky [September 4, 1980] “The Preface”

  1. great photos – reminds of a Pretenders concert I attended in Toronto – around 1981, I think – first time I had my camera bag taken away from me before I could enter. That was the end of taking photos at any concerts in Canada – at least until recent times when everyone is doing it with their phones.

    Like

    • Thanks Ms. Creighton. I know that feeling very well, about having the equipment “removed before entry”. Happened frequently, until I started free-lancing for a monthly magazine in California. That was fine, until the promoters started enforcing the “3 Song Rule”, and the joy of setting up, and waiting for the right moment to come along was severely limiting. That was less a problem at club shows, but then you had other limitations to deal with. On another point, I will finally be posting photos from The Pretenders, on that 1981 tour you mentioned, in the very near future. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Like

    • Hello Ms. Blomgren,

      Thanks very much for stopping by and leaving a kind comment. I will probably have more photos of the band to share, sometime after the new year begins, of the 1981 Tour, which some may think are even better!

      Once again, thanks for taking the time to comment, and take care!

      Regards,

      Michael

      Like

  2. Holy shit!, these are awesome photos! A friend sent me here, and I’m blown away! Just when I thought I’ve seen every vintage photo of my favorite band … thank you, thank you. So glad to see Jimmy Honeyman-Scott again.

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    • Hello Brian,

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a nice comment! I will have more photos, from the ’81 Tour, to share, probably just after the beginning of the new year, and you might find those even better 😉

      Once again, thanks for the kind words, and I am happy that another big fan enjoys them as much as I do!

      Regards,
      Michael

      Like

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