Wednesday, October 8, 2008


"It was like rock and roll speed dating," said one friend. I saw his point, but I loved it anyway. The Pretenders performance last night at NYC's Highline Ballroom had the urgency of a band running late, as if they had a more important engagement up the road. This is exactly how I feel about the new album, "Break Up The Concrete," which took up a little more than half of last night's show. The album runs about 37 minutes and Chrissie Hynde and friends probably spent 39 minutes recording it.

Chrissie Hynde seemed to be in a playful mood, which for all involved, is a good thing. Vet-Pretender Martin Chambers was on drums, while Chrissie was flanked by two kids who looked no more than 25 years old, Nick Wilkinson on bass and the phenom James Walbourne on guitar. It was Walbourne's Duane Eddy via Kurt Cobain's guitar playing that added the much- needed life to both the old and new material. When Walbourne took a solo, Chrissie Hynde beamed and focused like a proud mommy.

New songs like "Love A Mystery," "Rosalee" and the Bo Diddley beating title track really packed a punch that is missing from the record, while old favorites like "Talk Of The Town," "Don't Get Me Wrong" and "Back On The Chain Gang" seemed obligatory. Hynde just said recently "I can't stomach playing the old tunes anymore," and it showed...kinda. She must still enjoy "Stop Your Sobbing," "Kid" and "The Wait," because those three rocked the house and made the 75 minute performance go from a B to a B+

A fun night had by all, even if the security guy, who resembled the sixth slab from the left at Stonehenge stood in front me for most of it.

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