It is concert time folks and I got another good from the folks at Eagle Rock Entertainment. Hope my audience today likes the Eighties rock and roll because we got a doozie of a band tonight. They are The Pretenders famous for such songs as Message of Love and Back on the Chain Gang. Like many bands of their time, they are formed from the heart of England but they have fully embraced the American way. But without further adieu, let’s go to the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. Maybe they can “Bring out the Biker” in all of us (once I figure out what that means).
The Pretenders were formed in 1978 out of Hereford, England. The original lineup consisted of Chrissie Hynde as lead singer and on rhythm guitar, James Honeyman-Scott on lead guitar, Pete Farndon on bass and Martin Chambers on drums. They were named after the Platter’s song The Great Pretender and would go on to release their first album (self-titled) in the beginning of 1980. It would eventually reach platinum but take over two years to do so.
The album to this day has been regarded as one of the best albums of all time by such outfits as VH1 and Rolling Stone magazine. Many songs stood out such as Brass in Pocket, Stop Your Sobbing, and Tattooed Love Boys. An EP and a second album would follow up in the next year that included songs Message of Love and The Adultress among many others. This one would take much longer to find success and twenty years later finally reached Gold. However, tragedy was right around the corner in the summer of 1982.
Pete Farndon was fired from the band on June 14th, 1982 by Hynde. No more than two days later did Honeyman-Scott die from failure of the heart due to cocaine. Less than a year later, Farndon would also die from drugs, this time heroin and passing out in his bathtub. Hynde did the best she could after that putting together a rag tag group of musicians. But in the mid eighties, the group still managed to put out some strong hits such as Back on the Chain Gang, Middle of the Road and one of their most popular songs, Don’t Get Me Wrong.
The band would actually go on complete hiatus at the tailed end of the eighties. Hynde was the only member left at this point and she would go on to produce a couple of albums in the early nineties before reforming the full band. The band attracted back drummer Martin Chambers but it also gained two new members in Adam Seymour (formerly of Katydids) on lead guitar and Andy Hobson on bass. This lineup in this form would last for over thirteen years until recently.
This lineup is also the one featured on this concert on February 27th, 2003 at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, California. They also added Zeben Jameson on keyboards to help along in the proceedings. The first words, Mr. President (one of Chrissie’s jabs at the then President George W. Bush) would escape Hynde’s lips as she breaks out into the first song, Lie to Me. From then on, this becomes the telling tale of the night and how Chrissie simply loves to engage the audience and play to her fan’s desires.
I think that is what I really liked here. A lot of bands these days seem to go through their set with little care or thought towards the audience. But Hynde and her band are in tune with the audience. It is as if the band came to a party and decided to bust out a few songs to liven things up. Furthermore, the band plays a ton of songs as you can see by the lineup below. The songs range from new songs like You Know Who Your Friends Are to classic favorites like Mystery Achievement to popular songs like I’ll Stand By You. It really is all here.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation in 1080i resolution. Sometimes the picture is hit and miss in these concerts but I have to honestly say this one is about as good as they get. The locale looks lighted well and there appears to very little haze anywhere in the presentation. I won’t go overboard and say that the band looks like they did from 20 years ago (for obvious reasons) but Hynde was already in her fifties here and puts most girls in her age group to complete shame. Save this one sister and you can tell any story you would like on how to stay so young and beautiful.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (5.1 Dolby Digital and PCM 2.0 tracks also included). Eagle Rock never seems to let me down when it comes to Audio presentation. This sucker is loud and Hynde’s voice comes through crystal clear. Even if one has never listened to a Pretender’s song, one can pick out the words immediately. The instruments are rich and deep while filling out one’s speakers almost immediately on the first words from the lady’s lips. Simply excellent. Subtitles (only for the Backstage stuff) are included for English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch.
- The Full Length Video of “You Know Who Your Friends Are” 3:38: This is a pretty basic video reusing the concert footage we just saw. Good song though.
- Backstage Footage 10:28: The backstage footage is a lot of stuff with the band members talking about the current tour and there is some good stories from Hynde herself. We get to see them discuss the set list as well as some practice footage before the show.
- Concert Montage 3:31 : Some concert footage from the whole tour in tune to the song, Kinda Nice, I Like It off their 2002 album, Loose Screw. Yet another song to listen to by the Pretenders, a fitting end to a truly great concert disc.
Even though I am not a vegan and I actually enjoy some good sports every once in a while, I feel like a fan of Chrissie Hynde and her band, The Pretenders. (Though apparently since I am under 40 and male, I can perhaps come backstage after the show). In her own words, Chrissie is the ringleader but every member in this band plays their part from the masterful drumming of Martin Chambers to Adam Seymour and his smooth play on lead guitar. It feels like a complete performance from beginning to end with so much in between.
The disc is amazing with great video and simply awesome audio. The extras are kinda thin but they allow you to explore one extra new song and see some backstage fun with the band. I think anybody who enjoys rock and roll will find at least a few songs to listen here again and again. The Pretenders really embrace the disc and live concert format. There are plenty of classic songs to listen to but there are also new spins on old favorites as well as new songs all together. This becomes an easy recommendation and should be required listening for any child of the eighties. Enjoy.
Lie to Me
Message of Love
Talk of the Town
You Know Who Your Friends Are
Time the Avenger
Up the Neck
Fools Must Die
My City Was Gone
Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
Back on the Chain Gang
Don’t Get Me Wrong
Rebel Rock Me
Night In My Veins
Tattooed Love Boys
I’ll Stand By You
Middle of the Road
Brass in Pocket