Chrissie Hynde and Band
Hebden Bridge Trades Club
October 12th 2022
Chrissie Hynde goes back to her roots eschewing the big hits as she plays a small venue tour.
Chrissie Hynde may have been born in the USA, but she’s been a fixture in our charts for so long the Ohioan feels like one of our own, and as she noted halfway through this ultra-rare small venue gig there was going to be ‘no hits.’ The payoff for that was spending an hour or so up close and personal with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who had penned some of the best songs ever to make the top 40. But typically for a genuine iconoclast, she was using this intimate 200-capacity venue to play some of the lesser-known songs from her extensive back catalogue.
If anyone was disappointed about not hearing the hits they weren’t listening because all the elements of what makes Hynde such a great songwriter were all present and correct. Firstly, there’s that distinctive drawling voice that has none of its power or emotion, and then there is her uncanny ability to subtly sink a hook into every song which was the bedrock of her chart successes.
There were some new songs thrown in, but aside from a rocking The Adulteress from the classic Pretenders second record it was mainly material from the band’s last album, Hate For Sale. Turf Accountant Daddy from that album set the tone with a big riff as Hynde clad in cut-off leather jacket threw some shapes much to the audience’s delight. Downtown (Akron) from Packed is nicely taut, and Hynde seems to have developed the sort of musical relationship with guitarist James Walbourne she had with the late great James Honeyman-Scott.
Interestingly for one of our more articulate rock stars, Hynde is not much interested in talking to the crowd, although she did say she wasn’t expecting ‘such a young audience’ before Walbourne happily shredded his guitar on the pounding The Buzz. Like many artists of her generation, there are elements of reflection on Maybe Love is in NYC as she notes that ‘it’s never too late?/to do what has never been done before’, and it’s a song as good as anything she’s done in her stellar career. Biker is one of her beautifully bruised tunes as Hynde tells a lover ‘you bring out the biker in me’ as the crowd bathes in that glorious voice as Walbourne works the tremolo during his solo.
There were a couple of false starts during the gig that you would expect as the band worked their way through less familiar songs. Introducing Let The Sun as ‘another one you don’t know’ it didn’t seem to matter as Hynde reminded the mature audience ‘we don’t have to fade away’ before coming back for a short garage rock-inspired encore, including a feisty take on Hendrix’s Foxy Lady. Chrissie Hynde has always a one-off content to do her own thing, and is an activist, so it felt right that such a big star was keen to support a grassroots venue like this one with a set that proved class is ageless.
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Words and photos by Paul Clarke, you can see his author profile here