The Pretenders | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Free at Noon Flashback: The Pretenders bring peace, love, and rock n’ roll to the World Cafe Live stage
The Pretenders made the Free at Noon stage their second home, blazing through a set filled with some old and new tunes, all in the name of the band’s comeback release Alone. After keeping quiet for a good couple years (last releasing a record in 2008), these English/American legends blessed the world with the recent release of their new full-length and announcement of an extensive tour with the one and only Stevie Nicks. Lucky for us, World Cafe Live got a sneak preview of what’s to come for the legendary group.
Acting as a pseudo-rock n’ roll Thanksgiving reunion, beer-drinking baby boomers excitedly packed the room before the set, anxiously awaiting the return of their favorite band. Busting on stage to thunderous applause, The Pretenders jammed the sardine can of a venue, that embraced the band as though they never left. Lead singer and founding member Chrissie Hynde immediately welcome the crowd with open arms, kicking off with the titular track of their 2016 release.
The band never broke stride, highlighted by lead guitarist James Walbourne’s insane distortion-filled solos and Martin Chambers’ riveting percussion, immediately transporting the room back 35 years. Hynde’s fantastically classic rasp gave enough emotion to make Voldemort feel something, as songs like songs like “I Hate Myself” and “Private Life” let us experience her timeless emotional vulnerability. Her charismatic presence kept the afternoon light, cracking jokes about everything from the sudden “death” of the president-elect to ripping on the rest of the band for “always staring at my ass.”
After initially taking off to an earthquake-level sound of cheers from the crowd, the band graciously agreed to one more, bringing Hynde to quip “Sorry, I thought that we were done.” After it was all over and done, The Pretenders left the room filled to the brim with love, taking all in earshot to a better reality that we all needed to escape to.
Check out some photos and audio from the show below, and don’t miss The Pretenders return to “the show,” as they grace the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday with Stevie Nicks — more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.