The Pretenders bring the hits and more to a sold-out crowd in Upper Darby, PA

When you hear the name Chrissie Hynde some words that may instantly come to mind are fierce, trailblazer, original or simply rock and roll badass. She has been rocking the stage with her band The Pretenders for forty years.
 
Formed in England in 1978, the original members consisted of Hynde, Martin Chambers, James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1980, was a scorcher. It was a huge critical and commercial success. Over the years the record has landed on many best albums of all time lists. Not too shabby for their first effort. Sadly, a few years later, at the height of their new found fame, Hynde and Chambers lost their bandmates. Both were drug-related deaths. Over the years the band has seen many lineups but tonight’s show featured the very familiar lineup of Martin Chambers, James Walbourne, Nick Wilkinson and Carwyn Ellis. 
 
The lights went down and Chrissie Hynde strutted out onstage wearing a huge grin. She looked unbelievably fit in a pastel blue swallow-tailed coat, black skinny jeans and leopard print heels. Yep, forever the rock star. 
 
The band kicked off the night with “Alone”, a catchy humorous number from their latest release of the same name. The song is a testament to Hynde’s notably independent lifestyle. The band threw in a few of their better known hits early on with “Talk of the Town” and “My City Was Gone”.
 
When the classic “Kid” was played, that’s about the time the party started. The audience rose up and for the majority they never sat back down. It’s astonishing how well time has truly treated Hynde. Her vocals throughout the night were seemingly flawless, as evident on her powerful turns on the slower stuff like “Stand By Me” and “Hymn to Her”.  
 
The band was really tight the entire night but it became even more apparent when they ripped into a wild version of “Boots of Chinese Plastic”. Hynde then got to show off her maraca skills on a tropical-tinged “Breakup the Concrete”, which she said was a song inspired by her hometown of Akron. Ray Davies also got a little shout out on the Kink’s cover “Stop Your Sobbing”.
 
The night was filled with all the hits you’d want to hear and some songs from their critically acclaimed current release Alone, which was produced by fellow Akron native Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Everyone was singing along to their favorite parts during the night but when Hynde shouted out to the crowd let’s dance, the band kicked in with the very recognizable opening chords to “Don’t Get Me Wrong”. The fans did not disappoint her.
 
Over the course of the evening, Hynde’s banter with the band and crowd was endearing and playful. She explained to the audience that her guitarist James Walbourne idolized Elvis, which was apparent from his slicked back hair, suit and his gyrating. She said when Elvis Presley was born it was truly amazing that his parents knew to name him Elvis Presley. They Just Knew! That doesn’t happen often and never has again she said, to which many in the crowd responded Chrissie Hynde! There was laughter.  
 
The showstopper of the night was brought to us courtesy of guitar extraordinaire James Walbourne. The band played a frenzied version of “Thumbelina”. Even the keyboard player got in on the action and grabbed a guitar. As the song’s pace got faster and faster and faster, Walbourne’s fingers were moving with lightning speed. The few people who had remained seated during the show were now up out of their seats. There appeared to be a collective jaw drop throughout the venue. The song ultimately ended with Walbourne landing on the stage floor on his back from exhaustion. That folks is what you call “a moment”! 
 
Original band member Martin Chambers did a little drum solo before the band kicked into high gear with “Middle of the Road”. Chambers is an incredibly powerful drummer and left the fans in awe of his sheer talent. The energy in the venue was pretty intense. Maybe the band was feeding off the audience or vice versa but they wound up giving the fans a double encore and saved the best for last with stuff like “Brass in Pocket”, “Back on the Chain Gang” and punk numbers like “Precious” and “Tattooed Love Boys”. 
 
The Pretenders played their hearts out for one hour and forty-five minutes. They thrilled the audience with twenty-two career-spanning songs, which included every major hit, fan favorites, deep cuts and a handful of newer songs. It was the perfect show. Thankfully at 66, Chrissie Hynde shows no signs of slowing down. Cheers to a true rock and roll icon.
 

 

The Pretenders  
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The Tower Theatre
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Event Date: 31-MAR-2018