Archive for the ‘Pretenders’ Category

The Pretenders The Cluny Newcastle 6 February 2023

pret1 - CopyWow! Sometimes there are gigs where everything comes into place and you have an unforgettable evening. Well this was one such occasion. The Cluny is a tiny pub venue in Newcastle. It cannot hold more than a few hundred people. So when the Pretenders announced that they were playing some intimate gigs and one of them was the aforementioned Cluny I just had to go along. The tickets sold out in minutes, if not seconds. I was lucky enough to score one for myself and a companion, who turned out to be Elaine, and who also took some great photos. We arrived around 8:10 PM. The Pretenders were due on stage at 8:30 PM. So we were just in time to squeeze through the tiny door which gained us entry into the concept room at the back of the pub.

pret3 - CopyWe came into the concert part and were faced with a jampacked room, filled with a sea of people. We couldn’t move and couldn’t see a thing. Now usually I don’t take advantage of being in a wheelchair. But this was one occasion I broke my rule and used my disability to my advantage. I slowly moved forward asking people to let me through to the front. Slowly but surely, everyone was so kind, and I reached a spot almost at the front of the crowd one person between me and the stage. I had a wonderful view of everything. Thank you so much Cluny crowd! Elaine followed nervously behind me. I asked her to go to the bar and get me a drink and a T-shirt. “I can’t possibly move at all” she explained “and if I do get to the bar there is no way I can get back!” And she was right. We were completely crammed in and could not move at all. The entire venue was completely full and there was no room to move anywhere. Wonderful. It felt just like the old days when I was used to being crammed down close to the front.pret4 - Copy
8:30 PM. The band come on stage. Chrissie is just in front of me and looks just great. This lady is 71 years old and looks just wonderful. She is the archetypal rock chick in thigh length black leather winklepicker boots, jeans and a black shiny leather jacket. She sounds great and the new band she has assembled are great musicians. The advertising for the show told us that there would be no hits. But as I said, sometimes magic Does happen and four songs in we get “Kid”. A meltdown moment. Tears in my eyes. And a mix of great rock ‘n’ roll and hits follows. But the evening gets better. Chrissie Hynde spots me and asks the people in front of me to move aside so I can see. “Are you okay? Can you see?” She says to me. I told you it was 1 of those evenings. Chrissie Hynde talking directly to me. I tried to mouth back “do you remember playing the Mayfair?” But she can’t hear me.

pret2 - CopyI recall seeing the Pretenders at the Mayfair around 1977 and that they were pelted with pints of beer by the traditional heavy rock crowd. So we get “Back on the chain gang”, “Talk of the town” and “Don’t get me wrong”. All played at full volume, with great raspy vocals from Chrissie. At one point she asks “did any of you see the New York Dolls?” A big cheer. “And Johnny Thunders. He’s dead now. But so is everyone these days.” Says Chrissie. “We can play arenas if we wanted to, but we want to come back and play little venues. We are losing a talking fortune!” Chrissie also talks about the Grammys: “what happened real music and great rock ‘n’ roll?” More rock ‘n’ roll follows. And then they are gone.pret set - Copy
They play 3 encores. It is 9:50 PM. A member of the crew gives me a set list. Everyone is so kind. Thank you Chrissie for a wonderful evening. Special things happen every now and then. This was 1 of them. We wonder out of the venue not quite believing what we have just witnessed. Elaine loved it and so did I. Proper rock ‘n’ roll in a small venue. And so close to the band. And Chrissie spoke to me and looked after me! As I said magic does happen now and then.

Setlist: Losing Sense; A Love; Turf Accountant; Kid; Adulteress; Downtown; The Buzz; Domestic Silence; Don’t Get Me Wrong; Biker; Message of Love; Talk of The Town; Don’t Cut Your Hair; Time The Avenger; Chain Gang; Let The Sun Come In; Junkie Walking. Plus three encores!?

Chrissie Hynde sings Bob Dylan at the Royal Opera House London live stream event 26 December 2021

CHRISSY 0Chrissie Hynde is clearly, like many of us, a Bob Dylan fan. I had not realised it but she had the privilege of singing Dylan’s classic “Leopardskin Pillbox Hat” alongside the great man himself in Wembley Stadium, London on his 1984 tour which I caught at St James’s Park, Newcastle. She has recently, in May 2021, released an album Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan. This live concert took place on the evening of 26 December, Boxing Day, in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Opera House, London and was live streamed via VEEPS, the very same streaming platform that hosted (and on which I watched) Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom show last July.

CHRISSY 5Chrissie’s band for the evening consisted of Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne, with Carwyn Ellis on keyboards and Danny Williams on upright bass. Chrissie sat on a stool in the middle of the band, playing acoustic guitar. The band sat quite closely, almost intimately, together centre stage surrounded by beautiful Christmas lights, chandeliers and a Christmas tree. Lovely!

This was not your standard Bob Dylan tribute set. Chrissie didn’t play safe by performing a set of his best-known songs. Indeed, there were several songs which I did not recognise at all. Those that I did recognise included “Blind Willie McTell”, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” and “Every Grain of Sand”. Each song was performed acoustically with great guitar work from James CHRISSY 4Walbourne and equally well performed keyboards and double bass. Chrissie was on fine form. Her voice sounded as strong as ever and she was clearly enjoying every second of the experience. Dressed casually in a T-shirt “Don’t Pet Me – I’m Performing”! and the usual jeans and knee-high leather boots, she looked every part the lady rockstar that she always has done, since I first saw her in Newcastle Mayfair at the start of The Pretenders life. At one point Hynde admonished a lady in the audience “Switch Off That Phone”; only to have to apologise at the end of the song, when she realised the phone flash she thought she had seen was in fact the Exit sign flashing across her eyes! You couldn’t make it up!

CHRISSY 2Having completed the Dylan set, Chrissie moved on to a couple of songs which she announced as being composed by another great writer Ray Davies (a former beau) rather than announce them as Pretenders songs: “I Go to Sleep” and (my favourite) “Stop Your Sobbing”, which took me right back to those early days when she was first starting out as a musician and artist. These were the highlights of the show for me.

The band then moved on to a few songs that Chrissie had written with guitarist James Walbourne. These songs appeared on the Pretenders most recent album Hate for SaleCHRISSY 3, and were intertwined with a great version of the Hoagy Carmichael classic “I Get Along Without You Very Well” for which she put down her guitar, picked up the microphone and stood stage front. The single encore was a song, which was new to me, by French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet: “Que Rèste-T-Il De Nos Amours?”, reading the lyrics from a piece of paper, which she often needed to consult! It seemed a strange choice, but also quite fitting and marked the end of a lovely evening spent (virtually) with the musical legend, that is Chrissie Hynde.

CHRISSY 6Setlist: In the Summertime; You’re a Big Girl Now; Standing in the Doorway; Sweetheart Like You; Blind Willie McTell; Love Minus Zero/No Limit; Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight; Tomorrow Is a Long Time; Every Grain of Sand; I Go to Sleep; Stop Your Sobbing; Maybe Love Is in NYC; You Can’t Hurt a Fool; Crying in Public; I Get Along Without You Very Well; (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am

Encore: Que Rèste-T-Il De Nos Amours?

The Pretenders Newcastle City Hall 30 September 2017

“I’m special, so special,” (Brass in Pocket, The Pretenders, 1979)

pretenders tixChrissie Hynde is as sassy, soulful, passionate and uncompromising as ever. No longer a young rocker who grew out of punk, new wave, working in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop in the Kings Road, who almost married Sid Vicious, and did marry her hero Ray Davies, Hynde still strikes a commanding pose and comes armed with a set of rocky, jangling songs which are as relevant and as much fun as they ever were.

Laura, Jackie my carer and I went along to the City Hall looking forward to hearing a string of hits, some great rock ‘n’ roll, and seeing the living icon that is Chrissie Hynde. The girls sitting beside us were a little worse for wear, singing along with every song and every now and then threatening to fall on top of, and flatten, Laura. All the ingredients for a fun night out, on the town (or should I say “the toon”).

And a fun night it was. The Pretenders treated us to a set of new songs, old hits, Chrissie Hynde solo tunes and more. After a couple of songs I didn’t recognise the old classics started to emerge: “Message of Love”, the exquisite “Talk of the Town” and then we were back to the start and “Kid” with images of the young Chrissie being soaked in beer thrown over her by members of the crowd at the Mayfair in the late 70s flashing through my mind.

The band may be different with only Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers remaining from the original Pretenders but the sound and the songs remain the same. The new members bring new life and continue the soulful, edgy, rock ‘n’ roll that is The Pretenders.

pretenders prog“Don’t Get Me Wrong” was followed by “I’ll Stand by You” and then after a few more songs my mind was flashing back again to the first time I saw the band in the Mayfair with the Kinks classic “Stop Your Sobbing”. “Back on the Chain Gang” took us towards the end.

But we knew it wasn’t really going to be the end. The encore included the classic ballad “I Go to Sleep” and finished with (of course, what else but) “Brass in Pocket” taking me back to a Friday night in Newcastle Polytechnic Students Union, the week the song was number one in the charts, standing on the tables with Marie, while the place erupted around us. It was so many years ago and yet in many ways it seems only like yesterday.

The girls next to us finally fell on the floor. We went out into the cold night and got in to our respective taxis, Laura back to her house in Newcastle and Jackie and I back to Sunderland. Happy days.

Setlist: Alone; Gotta Wait; Message of Love; Talk of the Town; Down the Wrong Way; Let’s Get Lost;   Kid; Private Life; Don’t Get Me Wrong; I’ll Stand by You; Night in My Veins; Don’t Cut Your Hair;  Boots of Chinese Plastic; Hymn to Her; Break Up the Concrete; Stop Your Sobbing; Adding the Blue;  Back on the Chain Gang; Mystery Achievement. Encore: I Go to Sleep; Middle of the Road; Thumbelina; Brass in Pocket

 

 

Rod Stewart St James Park Newcastle 25th June 2007

Rod Stewart St James Park Newcastle 25th June 2007
rodtix2007Rod was back in Newcastle in 2007 to play a massive open air show at St James Park in June 2007. I turned up on the night and bought a ticket for half price outside the stadium (result, as tickets for Rod Stewart concerts were getting more and more expensive 🙂 ), the show was far from sold out. It was a dreary, cold night with spells of rain, which didn’t help the atmosphere inside the stadium. The stage was placed in the middle of the stadium, which created quite strangely angled views, from whichever position you took in the vast area. Support came from the excellent Pretenders, with Chrissie Hynde chatting with the crowd and playing their hits from the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Brass In Pocket and Talk Of The Town. rodprog2007
Rod’s performance included an acoustic set in the middle of the show. Not the best time I’ve seen Rod, but still an enjoyable evening, with the highlight for me being the chance to see the Pretenders again.
The setlist was something like: You Wear It Well; Some Guys Have All the Luck; Sweet Little Rock & Roller; It’s a Heartache; Rhythm of My Heart; Reason to Believe; Missing You; Father and Son; Every Beat of My Heart; Having a Party; Stay With Me; The Tracks of My Tears; Hot Legs; I Don’t Want to Talk About It; Dirty Old Town; Every Picture Tells a Story; The First Cut Is the Deepest; Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright); This Old Heart of Mine; Young Turks; Sailing; Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?; You’re in My Heart; Baby Jane; Maggie May. Encore: Twistin’ the Night Away; I Was Only Joking

The Pretenders Newcastle City Hall 17th January 1984

The Pretenders Newcastle City Hall 17th January 1984
pretendersprog1984The Pretenders regrouped in 1983 with original members Chrissie Hynde (guitar and vocals), and Martin Chambers (drums). They were soon back in the UK charts with “Back on the Chain Gang” and “2000 miles”. By the time I saw them in concert at Newcastle Hynde and Chambers had been joined by Malcolm Foster (bass) and Robbie McIntosh (guitar). The line-up was professional, and the concert good, but I felt some of the rawness of the original band was lacking. However, Chrissie Hynde remains an engaging performer to this day. I last saw the Pretenders when they supported Rod Stewart at St James Park Newcastle a few years ago.
From an article by Andy Schwartz in New York Rocker (June 1980): “Seeing [The Pretenders] live brings home just how new they are to all of this. Their entire stage repertoire can’t encompass more than twenty numbers, and even Hynde, already a potent presence and the obvious center of attraction, hasn’t yet taken full command of the stage. pretenderstix1984She’s still awed by the roar of the crowd, still slightly amazed to find herself in the spotlight in place of her teenage idols: Lennon, Townshend, Ray Davies.”
A Pretenders setlist from 1984: The Wait; Message of Love; The Adultress; Time the Avenger; My City Was Gone; Show Me; Talk of the Town; Birds of Paradise; Thin Line Between Love and Hate; Thumbelina; Back on the Chain Gang; I Hurt You; Pack It Up; Bad Boys Get Spanked; Mystery Achievement; Middle of the Road; Up the Neck; Precious. Encore: Brass in Pocket;Tattooed Love Boys

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.