C. J. Walsh
The Pretenders - Palace Waterbury, CT 2006
7-28-06 Palace Theater-Waterbury, Connecticut
Center floor, towards the back.
It’s hard to believe that over 25 years have passed since Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders released one of the best debut albums of all time; a record that provided the missing link between ‘60s beat groups and punk. The band’s glorious, yet turbulent early years were well represented at the Palace show.
It wasn’t that long ago that Hynde was talking seriously of putting her guitars and crates of mascara into storage and calling it a career. The release of the group’s career-spanning box set-Pirate Radio, apparently delayed the retirement bash. She makes passing reference to the new CD coming out, though ever the fan, starts gushing over the reformation of the New York Dolls.
Whether on the Bo Diddley-pulse of Cuban Slide or walloping the Message of Love riff into the dirt, Hynde’s rhythm guitar remains the band’s foundation, content to let Adam Seymour handle the leads. And that voice. The melancholy Birds of Paradise (an ode to ex-flame, Ray Davies) can still bring a lump to the throat, while Talk of the Town is a perfect foil for her quivering vibrato. They also tackle lesser-known gems like Jealous Dogs and Bad Boys Get Spanked.
Of course she’s still contrary, still opinionated, offering her take on being vegan and competitiveness in the music business. Before My City Was Gone, she tells the Waterbury crowd not to follow Akron’s lead and fuck up their downtown; all delivered in a New York accent that could only come from an Ohio native fronting a British band.
Still behind the drums from the early days is Martin Chambers. In addition to the superb playing, he intermittently offers birdcalls, elsewhere he and Hynde banter back and forth like an old married couple, saying he’ll throw up after she’s made a lewd reference and her assuring him he’ll soon be fired.
For an hour and a half Chrissie Hynde takes you on her highly personal tour of the ups and downs of being a rock and roll performer. She’s never been one of the guys though she ranks with the best of them. Here’s to her change of heart.
Published in Record Collector Magazine