One Week, Two Heroes


Now that is one hell of a marquee.  I have had the very good fortune of attending both concerts #1 and #3 within a scant 7 day period and managed to see two incredible icons of rock.  (No offence to Ms McLachlan – I have attended a few Lilith Fairs in my time, but this isn’t about her)  Sinead O’Connor and Chrissie Hynde both changed my life, or at east the way I hear music.

I had been a fan of the Pretenders since 1980’s “Brass In Pocket” but the 1984 album “Learning To Crawl” really made me sit up and take notice.  Here was the coolest of women – tough, strong, and unapologetically fronting the rockiest of rock bands.  Her gender had nothing to do with her presence.  She seemed to be  musician first, woman second, or perhaps more accurately both at exactly the same time.  Accept her for who she was or go screw yourself.  There are a few women who have managed to make their gender a non issue (Kim Gordon, Moe Tucker, Tina Weymouth to name a few) but it is an inexplicably difficult feat to pull off.  Chrissie does it without question, which is not to say she isn’t sexy.  She strolled out on stage tight jeans and over the knee leather boots topped by a vest and tie over nothing but toned arms and attitude.  Surrounded by a killer tight band of men half her age (perhaps even a third in the case of her bass player) she was in absolute command of the crowd.

Chrissie 2 Chrissie 1

The normally staid Massey Hall got to their feet once she ripped in to “Night in My Veins” and didn’t settle down until well after the second encore



The week prior I went to see Sinead O’Connor.  She too had command of the crowd but in a different way.  She started the concert by announcing she would play a song first that she usually reserved for later in her set, and launched in to an a cappella version of “I am Stretched On Your Grave” which she dedicated to Nathan Cirillo (the army Corporal who was gunned down in Ottawa at his honour guard post).  The crowd roared, and was hers for the next 90 minutes.  Her voice is still astonishing.

I remember working at a department store during college.  I was posted in the youth department where in a failed attempt to seem hip there was a bank of TVs playing Much Music.  The sales clerks spent more time watching the monitors than servicing clients and I remember when Sinead’s video for Troy came on we all stopped dead in our tracks, gobsmacked.  I had never seen or heard anything like it and I immediately bought “The Lion And Te Cobra” on the way home.  I didn’t stop playing it for weeks.

Sinead had power and attitude to be sure but she had a haunting vulnerability about her.  Anyone whose heart didn’t break a little when she popped a tear in the “Nothing Compares 2 U” video is a liar or a monster.

Two legends in a week.  Two powerful women who own their own game.  Inspiring and amazing and a great reminder about what can happen when you challenge the status quo.

I leave you with two tracks worth checking out.

The Pretenders “Night In My Veins”

Sinead O’Connor – “Queen of Denmark”


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