Gig Review: The Pretenders at Rescue Rooms

Words: Lawrence Poole
Photos: Nigel King
Wednesday 17 May 2023
reading time: min, words

Lawrence Poole took a trip to Nottingham's Rescue Rooms to see The Pretenders at work...


It could’ve been easily missed, this one. Slaloming through Hockley towards Goldsmith Street, we dodged tipsy girls in fascinators all askew tumbling into town from Ladies’ Day at the racecourse, while giddy Eurovision fans walked with purpose towards the Castle, camping chairs and prosecco in hand to set up base for an evening of kitsch entertainment. And, yet, in their midst, a titan of rock’n’roll was about to take to one of the smallest stages she’s played in years.

Sporting a Conor McGregor sleeveless T-shirt, one of music’s great survivors Chrissie Hynde sauntered onstage with all the dishevelled cool we’ve come to expect in her 45-years as a Pretender.

In town to promote the imminent release of their 14th studio album, Relentless, they get straight to work. Propelled by bequiffed guitarist James Walbourne’s scuzzy guitar licks, Losing Sense, Turf Accountant Daddy and The Adultress were all quickly unleashed before homage to Hynde’s hometown in Ohio, Downtown (Akron), was rattled out.


Hynde turns 72 this year and has lived enough lives to fill 10 autobiographies – from being a sales assistant for Vivienne Westwood in eye-of-the-storm punk-era King's Road, having marriage proposals from two Sex Pistols and a Kink, not to mention actual wedlock to Simple Minds’ frontman Jim Kerr. She has lived quite the life, yet like fellow female rock pioneer Debbie Harry, she’s still bang at it with all the insouciance of someone who has seen it all and done it all a thousand times over. 

Talk Of The Town kicked off a run off hits, which took in Back On The Chain Gang and the joyously defiant Don’t Get Me Wrong. Introducing the middle of that trio, Hynde spun a yarn about how the song was inspired by a clock in Derby, greeted much to her bemusement by a chorus of boos – what's Akron’s Derby I wonder? Cleveland? Columbus? Cincinnati? Having a fiercely detested city just 16 miles away in the cavernous States isn’t a thing, I guess.


After blitzing through the shimmering new single, Let The Sun Come In, the band departed before returning for a three-strong encore, featuring a quirky cover of Morrissey’s Everyday Is Like Sunday. It didn’t work for me, but it’s a dropped stitch in an otherwise captivating set.

Another box ticked off on the reverse bucket list (bands to see before THEY die), The Pretenders are still the real deal. Hats off.

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