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Chrissie Hynde At Beacon Theatre, Wednesday, November 5th, 2014, Reviewed

Sell Out

Sell Out

Look: Chrissie Hynde is a gift to rock music for a reason: she has a superb voice, it is sexy and soft at first glance, but it sinks in and it has implications that lie at the contradictions women faced in rock and roll: it imbued rock with female sexuality the way Peggy Lee did with Swing, it held within its pulled out gorgeousness everything rock and roll owed women. Hynde, coming out of Akron, Ohio, to just pre punk London, was not what the world was used to. Not even Christine McVie embodied sexual conflict with so much desire and yet so much anger. Chrissie is a beauty and Chrissie is an icon, and Chrissie has written some great songs and at the Beacon Theatre last night Chrissie fucking sucked.

A plodding egotistical slog through mid-tempo rockers. “Are you scared yet?” Chrissie asked after the opening 20 minutes of crappy well played and well sang songs. If by scared she meant comatose, yes I was scared.

Fronting a good band, with the excellent guitarist  James Walbourne the center of gravity performing some spectacular solos, especially on his single handedly saving of “Night In My Veins”, it didn’t happen. Walbourne had been half of the opening act The Rails earlier in the evening, and with partner Kami Thompson performed a terrific folk set, again his acoustic guitar couldn’t be average, couldn’t be still, he finger picked his way through the excellent “Send Her to Holloway” only equaled by Kami’s vocal turn on the debut album titled “Fair Warning”. Kami is Richard and Linda’s daughter, one day I won’t be writing that description.

Two of my good friends are close with Chrissie (although I’ve never met her) and they will kill me for this but the truth is, she doesn’t write enough great songs for a show, or if she does, she sure doesn’t play them, and if she plays them, she doesn’t play them well. After half an hour of deeper Pretenders cuts and the new frankly lousy album Stockholm, she performed “Talk Of The Town” and “Kid” and it still didn’t gel. There is a rule of thumb here, if the hits ain’t hitting, go home. It took another handful of Stockholm tracks before Chrissie nailed the first good song of the evening, “My City Is Gone”.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about her singing, the woman has terrific pipes, I’m complaining about the stodgy playing, about the slow pacing, about the bereft of Pretender friendly material. I’m complaining about the lack of razzamatazz and the lack of badass.

“Back On The Chain Gang” was too loud and the penultimate song before the encore (I left before the encore, I couldn’t be bothered waiting around to hear “I Go To Sleep” -the irony was too much) “Don’t Get Me wrong” was very good, as were three songs following “My City Is Gone” but I  have never much liked the Pretenders live and as a band they have one magnificent,  if you put all their best songs together, album in 35 years that’s a little iffy… still a great singer and she dated Ray Davies so that’s gotta count. Plus she sold her typewriter to God like genius Julie Burchill .

The problem is the catalog, her last good album was in 1994 and she didn’t even perform “I’ll Stand By You” (unless she did it after I left) and the other problem is Chrissie isn’t a very good front person: she is all misplaced arrogance and daring do, the woman is a bully and she just doesn’t put out. Chrissie  doesn’t know who her enemy is. If Stockholm stiffed for whatever reason, it is not the fault of the people who shelled out $100 to see her and yet are looked down at. Helen Bach noted it in her spot on review of the Boston gig, “God forbid she actually interact with the audience in this lull. About all she said is ‘wow there are some old faces out there’.. .trust me it was all I could do to scream back “Sugar you’re looking all of 62″. Helen got hated on for that review but Helen got it right.

That was a boring and bad concert. It fucking sucked, or did I already say that?

Grade: C

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