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Review: Chrissie Hynde at the Arlington Theatre

The Pretenders Frontwoman Played Santa Barbara on December 5

Chrissie Hynde at the Arlington Theatre
Paul Wellman

In an evening of feisty feminine power, Chrissie Hynde brought the heat with her show at the Arlington Theatre on Friday, proving that age is just a number. Performing songs off her new album, Stockholm, as well as classics from The Pretenders, Hynde made it clear that she’s still got it, and isn’t stopping anytime soon. Songs like “Sweet Nuthin” and “You or No One” showed off her punky, smoky voice, while ballads like “Don’t Lose Faith In Me” served as interludes to more rockin’ numbers like “My City Was Gone”—one of the night’s hands-down highlights. But the real magic was brought by guitarist James Walbourne, who breathed life into the show with hypnotic riffs and complex rhythms that served as a backbone for the band. As a guitarist for Hynde’s opening act, The Rails, Walbourne made an impression from the very start, and proceeded to further impress the crowd with Hynde’s band, at times stealing the show away from its star.

Chrissie Hynde at the Arlington Theatre
Paul Wellman

That said, Hynde’s stage presence and vocal capabilities have not changed since her days as the anchor of The Pretenders. With a tough girl attitude and an adamant “no camera phone policy,” Hynde went so far as to berate members of the audience who took the risk, and made jokes about the Santa Barbara lifestyle in a manner that only she could get away with. With sounds drenched in chord structures that alluded to her time with The Pretenders, Hynde’s performance of tracks from her new album were both nostalgic and refreshing. Hynde balanced more sensitive songs from Stockholm with popular Pretenders standards like “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” A trailblazer in the pop-rock movement of the 1980s, Hynde was representative of an era where strong vocals and dreamy melodies met at a crossroads, creating some of the most recognizable tunes that have remained a part of our culture today. On Friday, her raw vocal prowess — and the packed house that came out to witness it — showed that good music is timeless and will remain significant regardless of the decade.

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