Monday, July 22, 2024

Review: Chrissie Hynde, Still the Indie Punk with Soaring Vocals and Melodies, Rocks Like It’s 1981


Chrissie Hynde brought the Pretenders to the Bowery Ballroom last night and blew the lid off the small club.

It was just as if it were 1981 and she was playing the Ritz. Listening to Hynde, and her band — all new players — you’d think no time had passed. Her voice remains supple and soaring, now aged like a fine single malt Scotch. Her music is melody rich rock that combines elements of funk, country, and R&B. It’s always been the same, it’s never changed, which is not admirable but a relief. Others have come and gone, by Hynde has been a mainstay.

You know Chrissie is a tough chick. On Tuesday night the Pretenders opened for Guns n Roses at the Meadowlands. Most of the songs she played where hits. Last night, no hits. Nineteen songs. Two or three were appreciated deep cut album favorites, like “Precious” and “Time the Avenger.” But the rest were just B and C sides that were largely unknown. “No one is singing along,” said a fan to my left as we stood like sardines pressed up against a post next to a staircase.

I replied, “It doesn’t matter.” It didn’t actually. Whoever did the sound gets an A. Chrissie and her three guys were in a sweet spot. The songs she chose — including a couple of new ones from a forthcoming album — were savvy choices. Several — “The Buzz,” “You Can’t Hurt a Fool,” “Junkie Walk,” “The Adulteress” — all got showcases they long deserved. Somehow they sounded as fresh and up to date as if they were coming on a new record.

The new songs– “A Love,” “Let the Sun Come In,” “Losing My Sense of Taste,” “Domestic Silence” — would all be hits if there were radio stations that weren’t ageist. But legacy artists like The Pretenders can’t get played on Top 40, and FM just plays their oldies. Hynde should do Tik Toks, but she’s too ornery for that. She barely does publicity and doesn’t seem to care if the records sell or not. (The last one, which I really liked, tanked.)

Forty years ago, Chrissie Hynde sang “I’m not the cat I used to be/I got a kid, I’m thirty-three, baby.” She’s almost 72 now, she is totally the cat she used to be, and for all I know she has grandchildren. I think it’s time for her, Patti Smith, and Joan Jett to make a buddy movie. We deserve it!

PS In the crowd, legendary 87 year old concert promoter Ron Delsener, looking spiffy. Rock music keeps you young!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News