Rock’s True Goddess: The Pretender’s Chrissie Hynde Captivates at The Regent Review+Photos: The Pretenders at The Regent 10/2/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- As the burnt orange hues of sunset faded into the impending dusk, I found myself standing outside The Regent Theatre, clutching a ticket that held more nostalgia than just the promise of an evening with The Pretenders. My love affair with the band was conceived in a moment quite removed from rock ‘n’ roll – in the hushed auditorium of my Alma mater where a female a cappella group, bathed in soft spotlight, delivered a haunting rendition of “Back on the Chain Gang”. Perhaps my fondness for the song was intertwined with a crush I harboured for one of the group members; the heart has its reasons, as they say.
However, stepping into the packed theatre, it was unmistakably clear: the evening wasn’t about past crushes but a legend who has crushed stereotypes and boundaries throughout her career – Chrissie Hynde.
From the first strums of “Losing My Sense of Taste” (a “nostalgic” record of their latest album Relentless) , it was palpable that the audience was in for more than just a regular gig. This was a communion with one of rock’s true goddesses. The Pretenders, a band with a staggering legacy spanning over four decades, have seen members come and go, evolutions and revolutions. But the beating heart of this outfit, the thread that binds their myriad of musical tales, has always been and remains Chrissie. She’s not just a frontwoman; she’s the essence, the spirit, the force of nature behind The Pretenders.
On stage, with every note and every move, Chrissie reminded us of what rock ‘n’ roll is all about. It’s about defiance, passion, and a timeless energy that refuses to fade. It’s about shattering ceilings and building legacies. The deep cuts like “The Adultress” and “Time the Avenger” were delightful treats for the fans who have journeyed with the band from the start, resonating with an authenticity that makes them classics.
Watching her, it’s impossible not to think of the upcoming wave of rockers, those young souls with guitars slung around their shoulders, drumsticks in hand, or voices ready to shout their truth. They need not look any further than Chrissie for inspiration. Here’s a woman, years deep into her career, belting out “Downtown (Akron)” with the same fervour as if it was her first time. Vocally, she’s not missed a beat; her voice possesses that rare quality of sounding ageless. It’s as if the years have added depth, not wear.
The setlist was a brilliant mix of their latest offerings from “Relentless” and those timeless tracks that have etched themselves into the very fabric of rock history. “Back On The Chain Gang” was one such moment of pure transcendence. As its familiar notes filled the air, memories of that college auditorium and a certain someone came flooding back. Music has the uncanny ability to make us time-travel, to weave past and present into a tapestry of emotions. And with Chrissie’s voice as the thread, it was a moment of poignant nostalgia.
The encores, particularly their cover of The Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing”, showed that The Pretenders can seamlessly flit between their own iconic numbers and paying homage to other legends. “Kid” and “Tattooed Love Boys” were received with raucous applause, the kind that speaks of deep-seated love and admiration.
As the night drew to a close with “Tattooed Love Boys”, the theatre was abuzz with a collective high. Gigs like these aren’t just about the music; they are about shared memories, moments that are simultaneously personal and collective.
Stepping out into the night, the nostalgia hung thick in the air. There’s something deeply evocative about music from our formative years, melodies intertwined with memories of first loves, heartbreaks, and those myriad moments that define us. The Pretenders, with the indomitable Chrissie Hynde at the helm, don’t just play songs; they awaken chapters of our lives. In a world that’s always chasing the next big thing, there’s comfort in the familiar, in voices that have been the soundtrack to our stories.
In an era where the concept of “rockstar” is as fluid as ever, Chrissie Hynde stands tall, reminding us all of the grit, grace, and relentless passion that the title truly embodies. She is not just a testament to her time; she’s a beacon for all times. The Pretenders have indeed been relentless, in passion, in music, and in their ability to evoke the deepest wellsprings of our nostalgia.