In the Pretenders’ smash hit, “Talk of the Town,” Chrissie Hynde sings: “Oh, but it’s hard to live by the rules. I never could, and still never do.” True to her words, Hynde broke away from traditional concert protocol Tuesday night at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas to deliver an eclectic mix of new and old songs…delivered on her own terms.
Instead of opening with the customary two or three upbeat songs to pump up the crowd, Hynde eased into the show with a string of subdued Pretenders tunes. “Don’t Lose Faith in Me” opened the set followed by “Biker” that featured an entrancing guitar solo by James Walbourne. Hynde then grabbed a tambourine and performed “977.”
Dressed in black and blue all the way down to her black Doc Martin boots with blue shoelaces, Hynde looked like a punk rock warrior (without the scars). In fact, she looked just as she did 35 years ago, and her voice was just as alluring as ever, especially on her new songs.
Most classic rock artists believe they should stick to the hits in concert… not Hynde. Eight of the 11 tracks from her new solo album, Stockholm, were performed…and in many cases turned out to be the high points of the evening. “Down the Wrong Way” and “A Plan Too Far” featured a grittiness reminiscent of the early Pretenders sound. Walbourne’s brash guitar work created a raw energy that would ultimately overshadow Hynde’s older punk tunes including “Tattooed Love Boys” and “Downton (Akron).” The classic numbers just didn’t have the same aura with the Winspear’s huge crystal chandelier hanging overhead (even if it was retracted).
Punk influenced numbers aside; the rest of the Stockholm tunes held up as well. The pop-fused “You or No One” resulted in Hynde receiving a rose (the second of many to come) from the audience. The set closer, “Adding the Blue,” an artistic take on lost love, was simply beautiful.
Hynde did throw in some hits throughout the show including “Talk of the Town,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong” and “Back on the Chain Gang.” Refusing to be tied down to all the chart toppers, Hynde left out many fan favorites including “I’ll Stand By You” and “Brass Pocket.”
The absence of certain hits though wasn’t as disappointing as Hynde’s cell phone ban which quickly became a distraction within itself. Despite posted notices and several pre-show announcements, those who dared to grab a pic were called out by Hynde in mid-song. The chorus of “Don’t Get Me Wrong” was broken up by: “Hey, lady. Lady! Put the iPad down!” It was all for naught, however, as Hynde finally allowed pictures during her encore.
“Oh, but it’s hard to live by the rules.”
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