It says somewhere that Chrissie Hynde is a grandmother. Wouldn’t it be fun to eavesdrop on those visits?
“Grandma, what’s an Iggy Pop?”
“Grandma, could you please play your music a little softer?”
“Grandma, please! Could you watch your language around my friends?”
Actually, it’s hard to imagine anyone addressing the founder of The Pretenders as Grandma. Hynde started Monday’s concert at the Mayo Performing Arts Center by instructing audience members where to stash their cell phones.
Let’s just say her suggested storage area did not sound comfortable or hygienic.
Hynde then rocked the packed house for 90 very loud minutes, tossing F-bombs like July Fourth sparklers and proving emphatically that mellowing with age is not part of the playbook for this 66-year-old icon from Akron.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin:
The greatest hits show sprinkled in a few tunes from her 2016 album Alone, a band effort that molted from a solo project. In the title track, sung with her timeless contralto — elastic as chewing gum, undulating like a rotating Leslie speaker — Hynde proclaimed:
Nobody tells me I can’t, nobody tells me I shant
No one to say, ‘You’re doing it wrong’
I’m at my best, where I belong– alone.
Which, of course, is untrue. For nearly four decades, Hynde has told interviewers that she belongs in front of a band. She needs a band like she needs oxygen. It’s the one addiction that has outlasted all the others.
(For the record, this interviewer found Hynde surprisingly shy, and disarmingly charming, at a press event prior to Live Aid, in a prior century.)
The cast for the Alone tour has been with her for a decade, give or take: The scorching James Walbourne on lead guitar, Nick Wilkinson on bass and Carwyn Ellis on keyboards, anchored by powerhouse drummer Martin Chambers, the only other surviving member of the Pretenders from the late 1970s.
On a night full of hard-driving Pretenders favorites (My City Was Gone, Mystery Achievement, Middle of the Road, Back on the Chain Gang, Night in My Veins), Hynde’s closest approximation of sentimentality, aside from the 1994 ballad I’ll Stand By You, was her dedication of Kid to original members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon, who died from drug overdoses in the early ’80s.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here. Of course, without us, they probably would be here,” Hynde deadpanned.
After all of life’s dramas…the hit songs, the dead friends, a couple of marriages, a couple of kids, grandmotherhood, considerable Alone time…this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer still sounds an awful lot like the leather-clad kid who ditched Ohio to chase bikers and bad boys across the London punk scene.
New Wave hasn’t grown old on her.
Let’s hope Chrissie Hynde never mellows. For our sake, if not hers.