The Pretenders Newcastle gigs 1979 – 1981

The Pretenders Newcastle gigs 1979 – 1981
pretendersprog1980Chrissie Hynde moved to London from the USA in 1973, finding work at the NME and at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s clothes store. She became involved with the early punk scene, and hung around with the Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. She had a few short-lived bands and then formed the Pretenders in 1978 with Pete Farndon on bass, James Honeyman-Scott on guitar, and Martin Chambers on drums. They released a cover of The Kinks “Stop Your Sobbing” in 1979, followed by the great “Kid”. It was around the release of “Kid” when I first saw the Pretenders on 3rd August 1979 at Newcastle Mayfair. The Mayfair was a big heavy metal haunt, and the audience would give punk and new waves bands a hard time. The Pretenders were no exception, and they faced an onslaught of beer glasses.

pretenders1980tixIf I remember right, Chrissie Hynde put on a brave front arguing with the hecklers, but they eventually abandoned the gig, soaked with beer. Nonetheless, they played a great set, and left me wanting to see them again. In January of 1980 the Pretenders hit No 1 in the UK charts with “Brass in Pocket”. On 8th February 1980 I saw them play to a packed, sold out, Newcastle Polytechnic. They gave a storming performance, and Chrissie was simply amazing. This was the best time I have seen them in concert, and a gig that sticks in my mind as something pretty special. It was one of those nights where you felt that you were seeing a band on the verge of the big time, they knew it, we knew it and the atmosphere was electric; I think they may have been No 1 the week of the gig. pretenderstix1981From there on the next couple of visits to Newcastle were to the City Hall; on 6th October 1980 with (Swords of 1000 men) Ten Pole Tudor as support and again on 30th November 1981. The Pretenders were a great live act; Chrissie all swagger, tunes with great hooks, and a sense of their ’60s pop roots blended with punk and new wave. By the end of 1982 both Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott had died from drug overdoses, and it seemed that the band would be no more. However they were to regroup in 1983, and were back at the City Hall in 1984. I’ll blog about that gig tomorrow.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Peter

    Great memories of the Pretenders gig at the Mayfair. Chrissie Hynde was an amazing front person and one of the few people who challenged the idiots who would attend ‘new wave’ gigs at the venue. Could never understand why these bands played at the venue as they got such a hard time although I do think the tension all added to the gig. Did you attend a gig by Secret Affair at the Mayfair? They were a mod revival band, the movement became fashionable for 5 minutes around this time and I remember the gig ending in a full scale western style riot between Mods and Rockers.

    Thanks again for sharing all the memories.


    • Posted by vintagerock on February 21, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Hi Kieran Many thanks. Yes I was at the Secret Affair March of the Mods gig at the Mayfair. I have yet to write about it, but will do so. I recall mass fighting, and chants of “We hate the mods” vs “We are the mods”. I was standing upstairs out of the way, and recall seeing some guys throw a table or two down onto the people fighting on the dance floor. I think the bouncers brought Alsatian dogs in to try and calm things! A pretty scary night. Cheers Peter


  2. Posted by Tony Poolan on November 21, 2014 at 9:04 am

    As a matter of interest I was given a free ticket to see them in Glasgow – at the Garage if I remember rightly – when a neighbour won tickets in a radio competition. It would have been in the mid nineties. I went along expecting nothing and was completely blown away. Hyde was astonishing and Martin Chambers on the drums drove the young guns she had on guitar and bass along in style. Gret atmosphere. One of those unexpectedly great nights. Shame it wasn’t Newcastle but I was working away at the time.


  3. Posted by Ian on October 16, 2015 at 1:59 am

    The Pretenders played at the Poly the week they had No.1 single (Brass in Pocket) and album on both sides of the Atlantic. They’d tried to back out of the show but the Ents committee threatened to sue them and they ended up playing the show. I remember being upstairs in the main bar, hearing this amazing reggae band who were the support act, we rushed downstairs and caught an incredible set by a band called UB40, who to my mind blew the Pretenders away.
    I’d been in two minds whether to go to the show as Genesis tickets were going on sale the next morning (Duke tour), I ended up getting a ticket for the Genesis show anyway from a mate who had to work that night.


  4. Posted by Ian Forsyth on September 5, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Hi, I was at the two city hall gigs, middle of the front row for the 1980 gig. Had a red leather bike jacket same as Chrissie’s. No one got up for the first few songs and it was getting a bit cringey as she was obviously a bit annoyed, and made a few sarky comments. I was only 16 on my own and sober, but was a bit embarrassed, so stood up, turned around and waved everyone up on their feet – and fortunately they did. Ten Pole Tudor didn’t play support (despite the ticket) the fab Moondogs did (who’s gonna tell Mary etc). Still love the moondogs.


  5. Posted by Brian Stewart on February 3, 2021 at 11:07 am

    I was at the Pretenders gig at The Mayfair I don’t recall any crowd trouble. I loved them one thing I do recall is Chrissie singing Brass In Pocket ? Wearing a jockey outfit and cracking a whip at the front rows? Or is it a dream I had??!!


    • Posted by vintagerock on February 3, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Brian

      The gig I saw at the Mayfair was well before Brass in Pocket; it was at the very start of their career when Stop Your Sobbing or Kid was the current single. Maybe they returned later? Best wishes Peter


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