Artist: The Pretenders
Venue: Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Date: 15th July
Over the past five years I’ve been on a personal mission to see bands and singers before they die. I’ve kicked myself for never seeing Queen live (with Freddie Mercury doing the vocals) and I didn’t want to be in the same place again. As a result I’ve been to a few gigs where I’ve not been that bothered about seeing the band but started out merely looking for a tick in the box. With the Pretenders history of drug abuse and band members’ deaths I should probably have got here sooner!
Sitting watching the warm up act (JP Jones) I felt the “tick in the box” depression looming. Was my obsession getting so far down the list that I was merely going through the motions?
It didn’t take more than a couple of numbers into the set to push those thoughts clearly to one side. Other than 2/3 songs the set list read like signposts to my youth. Hit after hit were performed with great no-nonsense rock and roll delivery. In fact at one stage I did think that here wouldn’t be any well known songs left for the encore. I wasn’t wrong and this was the only part of the show that was a let down.
Chrissie Hynde was ably backed up by her current set of musicians. Mind you one looked like James May off Top Gear, the bassist a Ramones reject and Martin Chambers on drums like he would be more at home drawing his pension.
The Pretenders were inducted in 2005. I did think that this may be unwarranted as I’m not sure they really pushed any boundaries. However as I listened to song after song of hits I remembered all they have done and I’d be unfair to not put them at least on a short list.
With Chrissie Hynde being the only one from the original Pretenders line up I did ponder the line between the band themselves and a tribute. I had to smile when I read Chrissie’s comment during her acceptance speech into the hall of fame when she said:
“I know that the Pretenders have looked like a tribute band for the last 20 years. … And we’re paying tribute to James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon, without whom we wouldn’t be here. And on the other hand, without us, they might have been here, but that’s the way it works in rock ‘n’ roll.”
I’m glad I was here tonight, tribute band or not.