Last night's Pretenders show at Roseland Ballroom was a sobering reminder of the difference between Chrissie Hynde and today's generation of music stars: Chrissie is the real thing. Most artists would cringe if they could hear what Chrissie sounds like with nothing but a guitar, bass and drums backing her up. No recorded backing tracks; no microphone voice tricks; no backup singers. She just sings and it's like a Wall of Sound symphony happens right there before you.
They opened with the playful "Message of Love" and never looked back. Because they're promoting a retrospective box set, called "Pirate Radio," there weren't a lot unfamiliar songs to slow things down. The band was tight (Adam Seymour and Martin Chambers were there, but it looks like Chrissie has lost yet another bassist, although Andy Hobson's replacement was a cute youngster, pictured above, who looked in awe to be playing with the Great Pretender herself) and sounded album perfect. It was a little odd that they chose to play very heavily from "Pretenders II" ("Birds of Paradise," "Day After Day," "The Adulteress," "Bad Boys Get Spanked" and their worst song, "Jealous Dogs"), yet missed the album's other big hit "Talk of the Town." "Time the Avenger" and "Cuban Slide" were pleasant surprises, and while they skipped "Brass in Pocket" I was willing to overlook it for a chilling version of "Private Life," plus "Mystery Achievement" and "Precious" (the crowd went wild!).
"Back on the Chain Gang" and "Don't Get Me Wrong" made the crowd smile and "My City Was Gone" made for a sweet encore.
The tour T-shirt lists the city where the tour is stopping and it looks like the band is slated to make another stop in NYC in the near future. You don't want to miss it. As Chrissie laments in the song "Popstar": "They don't make 'em like they used to." Indeed.