Even after more than three decades in the music business, Chrissie Hynde still performs with affection, humility and zeal.
Sunday night she drew a crowd of 800 to the Uptown Theater — a relatively modest turnout, yet she gave them a memorable show.
The first part of the 90-minute set was dedicated to latter-day (and lesser-known) songs by her band, the Pretenders, and songs from her first solo album, “Stockholm,” released in June. Most of those, such as “In a Miracle” and “Like in the Movies,” were tuneful but moody ballads and midtempo numbers that generated a warm response from a crowd that was seated at first but would not remain so.
Two Pretenders songs ignited louder responses and sing-alongs: “Talk of the Town,” from “Pretenders II,” and then “Kid,” a lovely but forlorn lullaby from the band’s debut, “Pretenders,” now 35 years old. Hynde, who turned 63 in September, is as fit and agile vocally as she appears physically. Without pretense or posturing, she still looks and acts like a defiant, diehard punk. We should all age so gracefully.
She was backed by her four-piece band: guitarist James Walbourne, bassist Nick Wilkinson, keyboardist Sean Read and drummer Kris Sonne. (Walbourne was also part of the opening act, the British folk duo, the Rails, with his wife, Kami Thompson, daughter of Richard and Linda.)
The crowd was generous with the applause, even when she reeled off four in a row from the “Stockholm” album, but it clearly showed up to hear some Pretenders classics, and she obliged them. She delivered the bleak “My City Was Gone” with plenty of gusto and grit. Then came four more, starting with an inflammatory rendition of “The Phone Call” — a molten barrage of percussion, jittery guitars and Hynde’s wailing vocal — and including, back to back, two of the Pretenders’ best-known songs: “Don’t Get Me Wrong” and “Back on the Chain Gang,” which brought most of the crowd out of its seats, joyously, for the rest of the night.
The encore was even more rousing, thanks to the double-barreled salvo of “Precious” and then “Tattooed Love Boys,” the defining punk moments on “Pretenders,” one of the best debut albums ever. Hynde’s voice was electric and fierce, and Walbourne closely approximated the dazzling guitar work of the late James Honeyman-Scott.
They brought the crowd back to earth with another “Stockholm” song, “Dark Sunglasses,” a jaunty but snide rocker about pretense and posturing. “I’m not towing the line,” Hynde sneers, proclaiming what we already know.
Despite what she called her band, she is as genuine and sincere as ever.
Don’t Lose Faith in Me; Biker; 977; In a Miracle; Like in the Movies; Talk of the Town; Kid; Sweet Nuthin’; You or No One; Down the Wrong Way; A Plan Too Far; My City Was Gone; Downtown; The Phone Call; Night In My Veins; Don’t Get Me Wrong; Back on the Chain Gang; Adding the Blue. Encore: I Go To Sleep; Precious; Tattooed Love Boys; Dark Sunglasses