Statesman freelance writer Wes Eichenwald interviewed Chrissie Hynde to preview her Wednesday show; here is his review from last night:
Chrissie Hynde says she doesn’t give out advice unless someone asks, but forgive her for liking to remind people that going to a live music show should involve the stirring up of emotions – all kinds of emotions – and an unfiltered performer-audience connection. To that end, signs posted all around ACL Live requested we stow our smartphones and cameras, adding, "Please enjoy the concert and be in the moment, not behind a screen." On the whole, the crowd, most of whom seemed to be old fans from a time long before iPhones, was happy to comply. As for the grinning, energetic frontwoman, who looked as ageless and iconic as ever in a black sleeveless vest, striped tie and jeans, she delivered the goods in a well-paced 90-minute set. If this is what 63 looks like, let’s all adopt her lifestyle.
Though touring under her own name and behind an ostensible solo album with "Stockholm," don’t let branding tricks fool you – guitarist James Walbourne and bassist Nick Wilkinson were both with Hynde when they played Stubb’s as the Pretenders in March 2009, and the Will Travel Band, filled out by keyboardist Sean Read and drummer Kris Sonne, wasn’t going to keep the concert from eventually turning into Throwback Wednesday. It’s a recurring dilemma with so-called heritage acts who like to record new material: kudos for wanting to keep things fresh, but how can you match the extremely high standards of the early stuff? Save for "Dark Sunglasses," which Hynde saved for the second encore, and "Down the Wrong Way," "Stockholm," a decent enough if unmemorable album, doesn’t come close to that.
The concert got off to a slow start with subdued, obscure Pretenders tracks like "Don’t Lose Faith in Me," from the 2008 album "Break Up the Concrete," and "Biker" from "Viva El Amor," and moving into cuts from "Stockholm." The audience sat in polite appreciation, if a bit perplexed. Hynde and company only roused the crowd to life, the front rows rising to their feet and partying like it was 1984, when they tore into the likes of "Talk of the Town," "Kid," "Back on the Chain Gang" and "My City Was Gone." (More annoying than effective were the banks of blinding stage lights flashing directly into our eyes every few minutes, as if the band was interrogating the audience.)
Walbourne, a versatile guitarist who’s both technically accomplished and plays with feeling, was clearly Hynde’s right-hand man; the two traded guitar licks inches away from each other at several points and seemed to feed off each other’s energy.
Just as at Stubb’s five years ago, old-school punk prevailed in the end. By the encores, highlighted by an amped-up "Precious" and "Tattooed Love Boys," the tight little band had given the crowd what they’d come for. Just like Chrissie wanted, nobody seemed interested in taking selfies; they were too much into the moment.
Walbourne performed double duty as half of Hynde’s opening act the Rails, along with wife Kami Thompson (daughter of British cult favorites Richard and Linda). Their gorgeously melding harmonies and dueling acoustic guitar work created an intriguing dichotomy, investing this appealing trad folk duo with some welcome modern tension.