Chrissie Hynde | 11.23.14

live HyndeMy teenage love affair was torrid and vinyl-tough with the mascara-eyed woman in black leather and tight blue jeans.

The Paramount Theatre, Denver

I am going to get this out of the way first: When I was in my teens, I was madly in love with Chrissie Hynde. My love affair was torrid and vinyl-tough with the mascara-eyed woman in black leather and tight blue jeans. She sounded rough, threw well-placed “fuck offs” in her songs, and had a voice that rang with knowledge and danger. The Pretenders’ first two albums (1 and 2) redirected my understanding of women in rock. Hynde was the antithesis to my Heart and Pat Benatar world. When Learning to Crawl came out in 1984, however, our romance was over. My sweetie had a baby…with Ray Davies, of all people. How could I ever compete?

Thirty years later I am sitting at the Paramount, surrounded by people mostly my age or older, waiting for Hynde and her band to take the stage. I couldn’t help but to think back to Peter Murphy’s concert from earlier this year and an audience filled with old punks and their children. Murphy proved to be far ahead of his audience, able to surrender the past and look to the future. Not that it is fair to judge any performer by their audience, but this crowd made me fear the show would be a diminished victory lap and a flogging of her recently released debut solo album Stockholm.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. In just under 90 minutes, the 62-year old Hynde proved that she not only could still rock with the same intensity of 35 years ago, but she could probably trample many of today’s performers under her little black leather boots.

The show started slowly with several ballads and, despite a voice sounding unchanged over the years, there was a bit of apprehension on the audience’s part. They were happy to see her, but many of them—probably all of them—were there to rock. Five songs in Hynde, announced “The scary parts over; let’s rock”; from that moment on, the band moved at lightning speed through the up-tempo songs from Stockholm and many of the Pretenders’ best loved songs.

Her backing band, Will Travel, was exceptional, featuring Pretender bassist Nick Wilkinson and guitarist James Walbourne. A top-notch band is usually there to cover up the diminished nature of a singer who has been around a long time. In this case, the top-notch band was there to keep up with the energy the singer exuded. Walbourne, in particular, pulled out all the stops and gave both old and new songs a tough layer of guitar. (His duo, The Rails, also performed as opener the show.) One of the things his playing brought to mind was what a great guitar band the Pretenders were and are. Through the night, I was reminded often of how good the original James “Honeyman” Scott was in the first iteration of the Pretenders, and how impressive a successor Walbourne is to fill that role.

Hynde rolled out most of the Prentenders hits—though not “Brass in Pocket” (which apparently is common on this tour)—while not slighting the rest of Stockholm. She saved the excellent “Precious,” “I Go to Sleep,” and “Tattooed Love-Boys” for the encore, before finishing out with “Dark Sunglasses” from her new album. Promising “We’ll be back,” she and the band left a crowd that was well satisfied, as well as reminded of what once was…and still is. | Jim Dunn

Set list

Don’t Lose Faith in Me*
In a Miracle
Like in the Movies
Talk of the Town*
Sweet Nuthin’
You or No One
Down the Wrong Way
A Plan Too Far
My City Was Gone*
The Phone Call*
Night in My Veins*
Don’t Get Me Wrong*
Back on the Chain Gang*
Adding the Blue


I Go to Sleep (The Kinks cover)
Tattooed Love Boys*
Dark Sunglasses

*Pretenders songs

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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