Review: The Pretenders

Rob GarrattIt's frankly mystifying that a band with a history and back catalogue as fruitful as The Pretenders were reigned into starting little after 6pm, but after an afternoon of new kids on the block, they were a breath of fresh air.Rob Garratt

The Pretenders

It's frankly mystifying that a band with a history and back catalogue as fruitful as The Pretenders were reigned into starting little after 6pm, but after an afternoon of new kids on the block, they were a breath of fresh air.

It was a joy to hear guitars that chimed rather than growled, songs that grew rather than droned, and a band that threatened to burst off the confines of the main Obelisk stage.

It's true that true to a couple of drugs mishaps half the band today are hired guns, half iconic frontwoman Chrissie Hynde's 57-years-old.


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But veering from Stonesy-rock to jaunty country to sleazy pop, at times the new guys did enough to recall the energy of their precursor's 1980 debut.

'We were going to play a bunch of new songs but we thought screw it - you don't want to hear that,' remarked Hydne, setting the tone for the hit-fuelled hour to come.

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Hits on the list were the raunchy strut of Rosalie, Brass in my Pocket - described by Hynde as 'cheap and cheesy' - and the sing-along I'll Stand By You.

The highlight perhaps was a soulful cover of Dylan's Forever Young, that built to an aching climax of whining guitars.

Twenty-something six-stringer James Walbourne threatened to steal the show with his flashy, bluesy solos, but the singer was always the true star, prancing about the stage like someone as passionate about her art as ever.

The Pretenders songs have stood the test of time, ingrained onto much of the audience's memory, and this punchy, jubilant performance is already one of the festival's highlights.

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