This year, arenas all across the world have played host to the Akron, Ohio-based rock band, The Black Keys. The duo never misses an opportunity to praise their Ohio hometown, the former Rubber Capital of the world.But on the night of Nov. 4, the storied Tower Theater had the pleasure of presenting the original Akron, Ohio, darling, Chrissie Hynde, to a crowd of fans that have followed Hynde throughout the course of her legendary career.
Opening up the night was the London-based folk-rock duo The Rails. Comprised of Kami Thompson and James Walbourne, the married couple creates a unique, emotional sound with their acoustic guitars and harmonized vocals. “Fair Warning,” the title track from their recently released debut album, was the highlight from their opening set. Walbourne is a real maestro on the guitar, playing some truly impressive solos. It proved to be a sign of things to come as Walbourne would join Hynde on stage as the lead guitarist in her backing band.
The mostly over-40-year-old crowd sprang to their feet as Hynde took the stage and launched right into some songs from her former band, Pretenders. Hearing some of the old Pretenders hits was definitely a big draw for fans, besides solid cuts from Hynde’s recently released solo album, “Stockholm.” Throughout the course of her 23-song set, Hynde alternated playing Pretenders songs and songs off “Stockholm.”
Although it was harder to keep the crowd on their feet when playing the new songs, they certainly had no problem getting up for the older ones. The opening riff of “Talk of the Town” sent a jolt through the theater as Hynde pounded out the chords on her bedazzled Fender Telecaster. Following that song was another classic, “Kid.” It was a one-two punch that drove those in attendance through the roof.
One neat thing that must be a staple at Hynde’s concerts is crowd members bringing her things throughout her set. There were flowers, teddy bears and even drinks. It has got to be cool to be either the one making an offering to a true rock icon, or the rock icon accepting the gifts like some sort of deity. At 63 years of age, Hynde still manages to deliver an energetic and passionate performance. She jammed out alongside Walbourne as his fingers danced up and down the fret board on his numerous guitar solos. She engaged with the crowd, especially the knot of older ladies down in front who danced and drank with aplomb the entire night.
But her voice, oh her voice. With her sultry sound and impressive range, it was easy to see why Hynde continues to tour to this day. She sounds like she has barely lost anything voice-wise since the first Pretenders album was released way back in 1979. She stands as one of the greatest vocalists, male or female, in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.
While it was somewhat disappointing that Hynde didn’t play some of her other big hits like “Brass in Pocket,” “I’ll Stand by You” or “Message of Love,” it was still a tremendous show. Dropping f-bombs left and right, Hynde commanded the stage and gave concert goers a night to remember.