The Pretenders performing their Alone Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Wednesday 4th October 2017.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Chrissie Hynde, the 80s rock chic who fronts the Pretenders showed an appreciative audience at the Royal Concert Hall last night, that at 65 she has changed very little from those early 80s heydays with her regulation rock look, skinny jeans, T shirt and a guitar wielded with natural authority.

Three years after her debut solo album, God Only Knows, Hynde seemed more at ease fronting her group again to promote their latest album, Alone. Opening with the title track, it saw her sauntering around the stage offering up acerbic lyrics about her single life.

And whilst sensibly deciding not to dwell on their new material, songs like the frenzied Gotta Wait and the album’s big ballad Let’s Get Lost showed that Hynde’s voice is still a thing of wonder. Also rolling back the years with a 105 minute set that showed both their tough and tender side, Hymn To Her was ethereal and powerful, and I’ll Stand By You got the reaction from the crowd that you would expect and it was certainly deserved.

With her unique female rock voice, Hynde manages to carry the heavier material with real grit but the real triumph for her was the early 80s songs that defined The Pretenders, including the jangly pop perfection of Talk Of The Town and Back On The Chain Gang. Apart from fellow founding member, Martin Chambers’ drum solo, during which Hynde jokingly consulted her wristwatch, it was an efficient performance all round.

There was even time for a few dedications; the very tender Kid was dedicated to an engaged couple in the audience whilst Stop Your Sobbing came with a tribute to its writer, Sir Ray Davies, Hynde’s former ex who she called “one of the greatest songwriters ever”.

Taking off her red jacket for the crunchy new wave groove of Message Of Love and the droll dub rock of Private Life, the song memorably covered by Grace Jones, the years just slipped away. With superb work from bassist Nick Wilkinson, the astonishing guitar playing of James Walbourne and the supporting keyboard textures from Carwyn Ellis, they went into the stunning home stretch with I Go To Sleep, Middle Of The Road which saw Hynde play the harmonica, the country rock master class that is Thumbelina which allowed Walbourne to provide a stunning guitar showcase, before everyone was on their feet for the triumphant Brass In Pocket.

You can’t teach Hynde’s swagger and poise to just anyone as she hit the stage just hanging out with her boys, but that is what makes the Pretenders so enduring is her achingly versatile voice that has been lighting up the stages for nearly 40 years and they don’t look like calling it a day any time soon.