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February 6 - New York, NY - Beacon Theater

by Jonathan Pont

I saw the Pretenders on Thursday, February 6 at New York's Beacon Theater. Since there are no reviews posted for this tour on your site, I thought I'd offer one up.

In short the band played well, and the show had some excellent moments. Perhaps the best part was when Chrissie Hynde introduced "Money Talk," noting that someone had requested it and that they had not played the song in quite a while. This is the mark of a band: we recognize that they can play "My City Was Gone" or "Message of Love" without thinking twice (though these songs sounded just fine) but can they as a musical unit blast through something that requires some thought?

The answer was a resounding yes. It's a strong track in the first place, but the band sounded up to the challenge. Mark an "A" for effort in this column. When you go to a concert and a band shifts gears, it's generally a healthy sign. (Perhaps Chrissie was fibbing and the band played it a week or so before, but my guess is that the song was a fresh addition to the set.)

Generally, the set selection was good. I was pleased to hear a lot of the new material, and Chrissie set up "The Losing" by saying that it was about gambling. Interesting, as I hadn't made that connection, which seems obvious now. The band played about half the songs from "Loose Screw," a generous portion, but I think it would have worked a bit better if they would have showcased the songs a bit more.

One of the show's drawbacks: the pacing just didn't feel right. "Time" came second in the set, and it didn't allow the band to come on and take off. Plus, Chrissie had a deficiency of one sort or other in her monitor, and had to deal with her sound guy, disappearing for a moment or two after the song. Not her fault, of course, but you'd think one firm request would have settled the matter. Ah, the joys of live music!

Great to hear "Time the Avenger" again. I don't recall hearing this gem after 1984 (used to great effect as the show opener on the summer leg). Everything else in the set sounded fine ("Up the Neck" and "My City Was Gone" in particular --- Adam Seymour continues to rip!).

No complaints. The Pretenders stay on course by playing great, sticking to the new songs, rotating the older ones a bit (one published review mentioned "Mystery Achievement" being played the first night --- perhaps that spot changes each night as we got "Up the Neck," but I don't know as I only saw the second performance). And they showed that they're a band capable of hitting the curve ball, not just sticking to what they know is easily hit.

The best part is hearing Chrissie Hynde perform her music. Really, she's a survivor with knack for growth, and a considerable attitude that serves her well. That she soldiers on in an age where industry is largely indifferent to her as an artist is inspiring.

Now, if we could just the first few albums remastered so they sound as they could in the digital age...

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