Chrissie Hynde (72) from The Pretenders taunts her audience and sings in a both bitchy and seductive way

It is a refreshing experience: Chrissie Hynde who does not exhaust herself in expressions of love and gratitude towards the audience during a concert. On the contrary, the audience is scolded, mocked and sternly maintained. The heroine from the seventies kept her defiant attitude of yesteryear alive in several ways, with sneers, rock poses, knee-high boots and jazzed-up hair.

Chrissie Hynde, 72, performed at a sold-out TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, on Thursday evening with her band The Pretenders, of which she and drummer Martin Chambers are the only original members.

It became a slightly confusing evening. After the opening number, a shaky ‘Losing My Sense Of Taste’, the audience was scolded for filming with telephones. “Let’s get started first,” says Hynde, making angry gestures at offenders in front of her. She continued to look angry until, in the third song, a bright purple guitar was placed on her and she received compliments from the audience. In response, she said ironically that she had been shocked by the old heads in the room, “I didn’t expect that.”

Latest creations

During concerts, The Pretenders usually play the lesser-known songs from their repertoire, without hits such as ‘Precious’ or ‘I’ll Stand By You’. The group, which became famous in 1979 with the single ‘Brass In Pocket’, likes to play the latest creations, in this case songs from the twelfth album released last week. Relentless (‘merciless’). The first part of Thursday evening was filled with mostly new work. These rock-oriented songs sometimes lack the typical Pretenders charge, which can give average rock more depth: a Hynde inflection, a cross verse, or irresistible guitar riff.

But something made Hynde change course Thursday evening (“I want the old people to have a good time”). From the fifth song onwards they opted for a dose of classics from their oeuvre, starting with the fantastic ‘Back On The Chain Gang’, in which the guitar riffs jingle like chains. This was followed by hits such as ‘Precious’, ‘I’ll Stand By You’, ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ (they did not play ‘Brass In Pocket’), interspersed with their own favorites such as ‘Boots Of Chinese Plastic’ and the rock junkie Johnny Thunders dedicated ‘The Buzz’.

Constantly switching guitars, walking back and forth and shouting to the audience, all the while singing accurately: Hynde’s voice still flows smoothly from low to unexpectedly high, with her characteristic combination of tone: both seductive and bitchy.

Rocking and fulminating

And on it went, rocking, fulminating and dancing with guitarist James Walbourne. Only halfway through was there a calm intermezzo, with a lovingly crooned ‘You Can’t Hurt A Fool’, from 2020.

But usually music and behavior coincided. Hynde did a powerful harmonica solo during ‘Middle Of The Road’, and held a note for seconds in the beautiful ‘Kid’. She sang their anthem ‘Let The Sun Come In’ with conviction („We don’t have to get fat, we don’t have to get old (..) To live forever, that’s the plan”). Then they addressed the audience again: “It’s nice that some of you still have hair,” after which they performed a crackling version of ‘Don’t Cut Your Hair’.