The Pretenders kick off their UK tour with a rare appearance in the North East of England.
It’s been fourteen years since the Pretenders last appeared on Tyneside. Subsequently, the anticipation for this show is high, with a full house in attendance at the legendary Newcastle City Hall.
The band released their incredible tenth studio album Alone at the end of last year. The critically acclaimed record was produced by none other than The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach at Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, Tennessee.
Auerbach along with a world-class session band including amongst others Duane Eddy and Kenny Vaughan of Marty Stewart’s supporting band The Fabulous Superlatives accompanied Chrissie Hynde on the record, who is the only original member of the Pretenders featured on Alone.
The house lights dim and the band takes to the stage with Chrissie Hynde dressed in a pink sequin jacket, blue jeans and a black t-shirt, which is affectionately emblazoned with the words ‘Northern Soul, Newcastle’. Chrissie had spent the day exploring the city and had even taken the opportunity to visit the Castle Keep.
The Pretenders waste no time in delving into their latest offering as they kick off the show with the title track and “Gotta Wait”, with its up-tempo heavy groove before breaking into old favourite “Message Of Love”.
Chrissie Hynde exudes charisma, confidence and rock and roll panache which charms the Geordie audience. Not only that but Chrissie has a real personable approach to her fans who are collectively up on their feet from early in the show. Fans dance their way into the aisles, whilst the eager and attentive front row are firmly pressed up against the City Hall stage in an attempt to get closer to the action.
An excitable fan at the front of the stage shouts out a song request to Hynde, to which she acknowledges that the track will be played later in the evening. Hynde’s rather humorously retorts to the request stating ‘I never break a promise, but I didn’t promise … so I can do whatever the fuck I want’ as the crowd laughs along ‘but we will do that’ she says. Chrissie finds out that the lady in question is called Jill and the pair makes a few exchanges throughout the course of the evening until Jill’s request is ultimately played out towards the end of the show.
One thing which is noticeably different with this concert from other shows we see in this day and age is the feeling that everyone is present and sharing the moment together. Nobody is watching the show through the back of their mobile phone or attempting to get a blurry image to post on their social media, but instead, the crowd are in this together, dancing and singing along which certainly helps to create a very special and unique atmosphere in the room. It’s almost like turning back the clock twenty years or more to when concerts just used to be about the music, and it is certainly a refreshing experience.
Although Chrissie Hynde and powerhouse drummer Martin Chambers are the only remaining original members of the band, Chrissie dedicates “Kid” to her her former bandmates James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon, who are sadly no longer with us. Hynde acknowledges the fact that the band wouldn’t be where they are today without them.
The Pretenders set is packed full of greatest hits from throughout their extensive career including the likes of “Don’t Get Me Wrong” and the heartfelt ballad “I’ll Stand By You”. During the latter of which, Hynde salutes the audience as she watches on, the crowd swaying from side to side, many of whom lock arms with their loved ones; truly a beautiful moment indeed. However, Hynde by her own admission ‘didn’t come here to do ballads, and now they are gone – we can rock’ she declares and rock they did. Subsequently, the Pretenders break into “Night In My Veins”.
There is also room for deep cuts from ‘the vaults of the obscure’ as Hynde puts it with the inclusion of the frantically catchy “Boots Of Chinese Plastic”. The pace is switched up somewhat with a sublime rendition of “Hymn to Her” with accompaniment only on keys and during which Chrissie Hynde’s phenomenal voice fills the room.
The Pretenders close out their main set with the infectious “Back On The Chain Gang” and the fast-paced “Mystery Achievement” from the band’s 1980 self-titled debut, before taking their bows in front of a standing ovation from their loyal fanbase.
After a brief intermission, the band returns to the stage and delivers a four-song encore culminating in their UK Number 1 hit “Brass In Pocket”, Hynde true to her word which pleases both the song’s requestor Jill as well as the Newcastle City Hall audience. The track is a fitting end to an incredible evening of music.
After almost forty years the Pretenders are still going strong and showing no signs of slowing down.
Event Date: 30-Sept-2017