LIVE: The Pretenders – O2 Ritz, Manchester, 23/10/2023
The Pretenders recently announced a trio of UK club gigs, with dates at London’s Electric Ballroom, Manchester’s O2 Ritz and the iconic Glasgow Barrowlands. The announcement came after the release of their 12th studio album, Relentless – the follow-up to 2020’s Hate For Sale – which was released through Parlophone on 15th September 2023. The intimate shows come as a sharp contrast to the huge shows that the band have played this year, particularly over the Summer, which saw them play triumphant sets at Glastonbury and BBC Radio 2 In The Park.
Taking to the stage with ‘Losing My Sense of Taste’ – one of the many new offerings from Relentless – Chrissie Hynde and co were in high spirits and after just a few songs, it was clear to see that she has a powerhouse of a band behind her. Featuring powerful vocals from Chrissie Hynde, ‘Turf Accountant Man’ shone the spotlight on James Walbourne’s guitar skills that maintain the driving guitar tones that we’ve come to associate with the Pretenders. 1992’s ‘Adultress’ came next, packing one hell of a punch, before ‘Downtown’ followed suit.
Having formed in 1978, The Pretenders have had a plethora of prolific associates and friends over the years, and Chrissie has never been one to leave them in the past. Before launching into ‘The Buzz’, the legendary frontwoman dedicated the jangly ballad to Johnny Thunders. Of course, there’s another Johnny in Chrissie’s life – none other than Johnny Marr, who toured with the band and appeared on the ‘Windows of the World’ single in 1987. With the Manchester legends 60th birthday just one week away, Chrissie orchestrated a raucous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the crowd – and it wasn’t the only song that she enlisted help from the crowd. After much deliberation, the band winged it with an impromptu cover of ‘Everyday is Like Sunday’ by Johnny’s former bandmate, Morrissey. The final tribute of the evening came before the melodic ‘Kid’, when Chrissie expressed her unwavering love to past members of the band who are sadly no-longer with us.
When you go and see the Pretenders you can always guarantee that you’re in for a high energy show and the jaunty classic ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ had everybody dancing as did the punchy ‘Don’t Cut Your Hair’ and ‘Boots of Chinese Plastic’, which were without a doubt major highlights of the evening. Though the set was full of fast paced rockers, there were curveballs that took the pace down a notch, such as when Chrissie ditched her guitar to perform ‘Can’t Hurt a Fool’, a beautiful track that sees her signature vocals that have gone from strength to strength over the years meet the soulful sounds of James’ guitar.
After ‘Back on the Chain Gang’, which is widely thought to be one of Chrissie’s compositions, the main set came to an end with the undeniably catchy duo of ‘Let The Sun Come In’ and ‘Junkie Walk’. Returning to the sound of much deserved applause, the band launched into ‘Stop Your Sobbing’ from the debut album written by The Kinks and which they covered as their first single. The light-hearted ‘Cuban Slide’ followed before the band’s career spanning set came to a spectacular end with ‘Mystery Achievement’, a funky track from 1980 that boasted a throbbing bassline from Dave Page and pummelling beats from Kris Sonne.
After four decades, Chrissie is as much an icon as ever and that’s something that will never change. Not only was it clear to see that her and the rest of the band were having the time of their lives, but it was evident that they have a lot left to offer.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.
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