Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders

Bonnie Godas

“I’ve been with him for thirty years!” Chrissie Hynde told the crowd about her long time drummer Martin Chambers, one of the founding members of the Pretenders. Yes, even though Hynde has been around that long expertly playing punk and rock, her new album, “Break up the Concrete”, her first in six years, shows her new interest: country blues. Complete with a Pedal steel guitar, Chrissie once again proves that she is never afraid to experiment in different musical styles. And you know what? Her fans don’t care. They just want to hear and see her play and even though they may not always love what she does, they will still follow her anywhere. The general impression that people have for woman rockers is one of negativity. Rock and Roll has a always been a musical genre to play by boys for boys but Hynde has overcome these obstacles right at the beginning allowing her to cross cultural and gender boundaries that appeal to all audiences.

At thirty-five dollars a ticket, it was affordable and I’m sure that Hynde wanted it that way knowing that it is not necessary to financially rip people off just to see a rock show. In her twenty-two song set, Hynde covered most of her new album as well as playing songs that spanned her thirty year career that gave her the popularity she has today. Opening with “Chinese Plastic”, it is clear that Hynde is driven to make another statement of her new love of country music. “Chinese Plastic” is a twangy, country, aggressive tune that does hint at styles of her earlier career. The title may also signify her involvement with the environment and the protection of animals (PETA), (she even owns a vegan restaurant in Akron, Ohio where she grew up), but unlike other musicians that use a concert for an excuse for their cause, she doesn’t preach anything which I’m sure no one minded.

After a new song, “Don’t Cut Your Hair”, complete with a “yee ha!” she segued into “Talk of the Town” and “Message of Love” from the Pretenders II album. Because of her sultry, mezzo soprano voice, Hynde can sing at all ranges which makes her compatible to most musical styles. She alternates throughout the show between old and new, causing her fans to take a little trip down music lane and remembering the first time they saw The Pretenders at the Orpheum in the early eighties. Songs like “Stop Your Sobbin”, written by Ray Davies of the Kinks, shows Hynde’s true musical range and “Chain Gang” features melodic high peaking guitar hooks that rises and fall with simple ease.

Managing to get it all in, Hynde included numerous songs from her classic first album, which dominated her two encores. Her famous “Precious”, where the sing along is shared by the words “I’m too precious-f…k off” ball or “Up The Neck”, are not recommended for the prudish.

By the excitement she emits on stage by her earlier music which is punk, shows where she is most comfortable. It seems that’s where the fans feel most comfortable too..

Bonnie can be reached at [email protected]