Live Review: The Pretenders – Thursday 20th October 2016 – Omeara, London, UK
Donning an Elvis t-shirt and strutting the stage with her trademark messy locks and a charmingly unrestrained gob, Hynde and her band of four took to the petite Omeara stage at a little after 9pm and were instantly met by the crowds roaring approval. The night was one to celebrate the bands brand new, and tenth, studio record, Alone which has been released today to widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike.
The rustically dressed venue was a gorgeous setting for the bands performance with the collective playing within a small, eloquently framed stage; a picture perfect rock n roll evening! From within the confines of the venue the band unleashed a weighty set of new songs taken from their new record and a collection of some of the bands finest and most successful singles from throughout their several decade long career, opening with Alone, the title track of the bands latest studio effort.
Chrissie’s vocals have retained their distinctive and beautifully worn quality to them and she exercised that vocal prowess throughout each number within the evenings set. Soaked in garage rock tones and with its chilling vibrato, the songs performed during the set were delivered with pitch-perfect precision and an unweathered quality of a vocal legend. Whether it was through punchy renditions of new hits like the gritty Gotta Wait early on in the set or the perfectly executed country-tinged performances of Alone hits Death Is Not Enough and Lets Get Lost, Hynde was a world class performer and vocalist who deserved the admiration that came gushing from her fans.
As new songs from the bands latest studio album ruled the set, the band were also generous with back catalogue hits which have helped the outfit become one of the most successful and loved rock bands of the last 40 years. Touching performances of power ballad singles Hymn to Her and I’ll Stand By You sat nostalgically alongside a myriad of the bands uptempo career highlights including Stop Your Sobbing, Chain Gang, Don’t Get Me Wrong and the irresistible Brass In Pocket; the latter getting the crowds stamp of approval above all others as they helped belt each number out with the rock icon.
As the band tested out the quaint new venue, various issues plagued Hynde’s performance including the overuse of the smoke machine during an otherwise moving performance of I’ll Stand By You and numerous sound level issues which caused the iconic front-woman to become visibly irritated. Never one to leave her fans feeling awkward however, Hynde quickly got the show back on the rails with foot-in-mouth comments to get a reaction from her audience or declaring that she was having ‘a meltdown’ with a chuckle.
Last nights performance was not just a celebration of the bands new record but a celebration of the return of one of rocks true greats. It served as a reminder of Hynde and her bands impact on British and American rock music and just why they are as relevant today as they were when they made their first steps onto the world stage back in the 70’s.