In Music Reviews

The Pretenders played the Riverside Theater Tuesday night. (PHOTO: Kellen Nordstrom, Pabst Theater Group)

The Pretenders continue living the rock star dream at the Riverside

Who doesn't want to be in a rock band?

It's a question you will hear Chrissie Hynde repeating often. Last night, in front of a sold-out show at the Riverside Theater, The Pretenders proved why. Hynde quickly came alive on stage doing, as she put it, "whatever I want right now." Wearing thigh high boots and a leather jacket, she projected sex appeal and confidence from the moment she walked onstage.

The venue, coupled with a no cellphone policy, ensured for an intimate concert. Hynde is known for loving clubs and theaters where she can see the audience and the audience can see her. The intimate setting carried over to Hynde's banter throughout the night. At one point, Hynde called out to a fan, "You in the blue shirt – here's one for you because you whistled at me."

The Pretenders played for less than two hours, but you wouldn't know it when looking at their setlist. They played a crowd-pleasing mix of new and old, along with two encores. The show kicked off with "Alone" from the band's new album. In the song, Hynde proudly declares "I like it, yeah, I like being alone," starting the concert off on a light-hearted note.

As the concert moved along, so did the hits. "Back on the Chain Gang" garnered the loudest crowd response, but the melancholic "Hymn to Her" was a concert highlight. In the midst of the song, Hynde apologized for her voice, but the crowd didn't seem to care or notice, giving a standing ovation to finish out the song.

The band went on another stream of songs from the new album. These received a lower energy response than the original two, but any loss of tempo was well worth it for the moment after "I Hate Myself" when Hynde joked, "I don't really hate myself. I think I'm f*cking awesome." A roar of laughter followed from the crowd for Hynde's unapologetic but relatable nature.

The first encore ended with "Break Up the Concrete." It had been a strong show, but the thought of the show ending without the rock classic "I'll Stand by You" created an air of disappointment. But just as the crowd was getting ready to leave, the band came back on stage immediately launching into what the crowd had been waiting for.

After closing out the show with "Thumbelina," The Pretenders took a well-earned bow and walked off the stage – for real, this time. Last night proved The Pretenders' new stuff can stand up to their old, and they are still a relevant force on the music scene. As the audience filed out of the Riverside, everyone undoubtedly wanted to be part of a rock band.

Setlist

"Alone"
"Gotta Wait"
"Kid"
"Down the Wrong Way"
"Back on the Chain Gang"
"My City Was Gone"
"Hymn to Her"
"Don't Get Me Wrong"
"Let's Get Lost"
"I Hate Myself"
"Up the Neck"
"Cuban Slide"
"Bad Boys Get Spanked"
"Middle of the Road"

Encore
"Death Is Not Enough"
"Break Up the Concrete"

Encore 2
"I'll Stand by You"
"The Wait"
"Thumbelina"


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