This year’s tasty Summer Nights season at Kelvingrove Bandstand kicked off in fine and typically good-natured style with an utterly assured performance by The Pretenders. Over the next two weeks, the leafy amphitheatre will be graced by grizzled veterans, Scotpop songwriters and harmonic folk favourites but not by anyone as effortlessly cool as Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, who remains a persuasive advert for the elixir of rock’n’roll.
The Pretenders, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ****
Hynde was in exquisite voice throughout, whether extolling the virtues of personal independence on Alone, riding the rock’n’roll jangle of Back on the Chain Gang or lamenting the fate of her native Akron on My City Was Gone, though she really showed off her silky control on the ballads Kid and the stripped-back Hymn To Her, soundtracked only by the drone of organ.
“I know they’re old songs but we still like playing them,” she declared. No apology needed – the audience were delighted to greet a set of old friends, rising to their feet for the infectious chug of Don’t Get Me Wrong as Hynde demonstrated both her good humour and her professionalism in inviting a fan onstage and joining in with her creative cheesy moves without missing a beat.
Hynde is such a presence that she cannot help but overshadow her band of young bucks and even her wingman beat keeper Martin Chambers, but the group dynamic was in full effect on their Bo Diddley-inspired rockers Thumbelina and Break Up the Concrete for which the crowd preferred to boogie on the concrete.