Live: Chrissie Hynde

Punk-pop paragon still merits some of your attention.

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It’s not a perfect Chrissie Hynde gig – there’s too much from the latest album to qualify as that – but it’s not 2,000 miles away.

Self-deprecating in shaggy hair and singlet, and in fantastic voice, the relaxed 63-year-old reminds us that few have ever sung both blazing rock and smouldering soul like her. At the front of a standard quartet with a killer guitarist, she’s in her element, telling earthy anecdotes in that Ohioan drawl and marvelling nostalgically at how “this place was once the Music Machine, where I came to see Siouxsie & The Banshees, with Sid Vicious…“.

Nostalgia’s not her theme though, so old hits are delivered sparingly between selections from this year’s Stockholm. That’s underwhelming for festive fans, as the sense that the vanilla production of that album took all the juice out isn’t dispelled here. Dark Sunglasses at least has heft in its hooks. Yet a one-two punch of Talk Of The Town and Kid is on another plane, their rumbling yearning savaging the sweet spot. To hear Hynde in full flow during one of these is to hear honey and fire blissfully co-exist. The set is back-loaded with highlights, and Don’t Get Me Wrong drives while I Go To Sleep swoons. Closing with a 2,000 Miles that’s missing only sleigh bells, the great Pretender is still precious.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.