Chrissie Hynde is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a mother, an environmental activist, an animal-rights activist, and a restaurateur. (See her in this month’s Gourmet magazine, talking about her restaurant, the VegiTerranean, in her hometown of Akron, Ohio.) And, every once in a while, she is still a working musician. Last year, Hynde’s band, the Pretenders, released Break Up the Concrete, which was only the second album of all-new material they’ve released so far this millennium. But who’s counting? Hynde told the crowd at her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2005, “I know we have looked like a tribute band for the last 20 years.”
Hynde formed the Pretenders in London with drummer Martin Chambers, bassist Pete Farndon, and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott in 1978. Their 1980 debut is widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time. Hynde was the star, but the whole band was exceptional. Tragically, both Honeyman-Scott and Farndon died from drugs after the band’s second album. Chambers still tours with the band, but the Pretenders have been basically a backing band for Hynde ever since. Still, it was the later versions of the band that supplied the Pretenders with some of their biggest hits, like “Back on the Chain Gang” and “Night in My Veins.”
And, to be honest, Break Up the Concrete is pretty good, too. The young British guitarist James Walbourne plays a kind of revved-up rockabilly while Eric Heywood gives things an old-school country feel with his pedal steel. Of course, Hynde is still the star. If this is a tribute band, well, she deserves tribute.
PRETENDERS, House of Blues, Thursday, March 5, 7:30 p.m. 619-299-2583. $49.50–$79.50.