The Pretenders Perform Intimate, Career-Spanning Set At The Stone Pony In Asbury Park, NJ

On the threshold of releasing their 12th studio album Relentless (Rhino Records) on September 15, their first in three years, frontwoman Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders are supplementing their seven summer stadium shows in support of Guns N’ Roses with their own U.S. headlining tour.

The string of special dates – nine in total – are bringing to their fans a rare look at the iconic English-American rockers as they play intimate clubs across America. The trek kicked off at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on August 16, followed by a second gig in Nashville, TN on August 26. This past Tuesday (August 29), on a humid night in Asbury Park, NJ, it was The Stone Pony’s turn to perform host duties.

Photo: Michael Dinger Photography | Pit Perspectives

The new album’s title, as described by Hynde, refers to “The life of the artist. You never retire. You become relentless.” And relentless she and her crew were as they thrilled the 850-capacity crowd with a 20-song assault that featured deep cuts across the landscape of their 44-year discography. Made famous by their helping hand in launching the careers of local natives Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi into superstardom, the seaside bar was filled to the rafters with a healthy contingent of Baby Boomers, hundreds of which were queued along Ocean Avenue more than 2 hours before doors!

Photo: Michael Dinger Photography | Pit Perspectives

Promptly at 8:30 pm, as the entrance aria from the 1875 French opera Carmen played over the house PA, the quartet discretely slipped into the venue from a side door and entered stage right to a raucous ovation. Rocking knee-high leather boots, Levi’s and a black Stony Pony tee over a waffle-knit shirt, Hynde took up her Fender – she would relinquish it only once during the night – and immediately offered up a brand new track (“Losing My Sense of Taste”) for their forthcoming release. Speaking of The Boss, Hynde quipped early in the set, “Bruce, are you hear? I lost your phone number, or I would’ve called.”

Photo: Michael Dinger Photography | Pit Perspectives
Photo: Michael Dinger Photography | Pit Perspectives
Photo: Michael Dinger Photography | Pit Perspectives

While playing all their hits in the stadium gigs with Guns N’ Roses – choice numbers the likes of “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” “Back on the Chain Gang,” “I’ll Stand by You,” “Brass in Pocket,” “Middle of the Road” and “Talk of the Town” – tonight’s setlist was tailor-made for all the die-hard Pretenders fans in attendance, the ones who know every album inside and out. For nearly 90-minutes straight, Hynde enchanted her followers while showcasing powerfully distinctive vocals and captivating, emotional depth, making it evident as to why The Pretenders have long since carved their name into the annals of rock history with unwavering authenticity. The only hiccup in an otherwise flawless performance was a false start to the opening verse of “Thumbelina,” a track taken from their third studio album Learning to Crawl (1984).

Photo: Michael Dinger Photography | Pit Perspectives

Injecting a raw, edgy quality into the performance, infused with the unmistakable sound that defines The Pretenders’ signature style, “The Buzz” (Hate for Sale, 2020) was dedicated to the late Johnny Thunders who came to prominence in the early-70s as a member of the New York Dolls and with whom Hynde made a guest appearance on his first solo album. The Pretenders would dedicate another song later in the night, albeit sarcastically to the Sackler family, with their delivery of “Junkie Walk,” another track from Hate for Sale. The epic night of rock and roll concluded with a three song encore featuring the lone cover of the night, “I Go to Sleep,” an homage to The Kinks by Hynde and The Pretenders whose very first single in 1979 was a cover of The Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing,” quickly giving the newly founded band critical attention that they would preserve for nearly the next five decades.

Setlist: Losing My Sense of Taste > A Love > Turf Accountant Daddy > The Adultness > Downtown (Akron) > The Buzz > Domestic Silence > Time the Avenger > Biker > Boots of Chinese Plastic > Don’t Cut Your Hair > Gotta Wait > You Can’t Hurt a Fool > Tequila > Thumbelina > Let the Sun Come In > Junkie Walk
Encore: I Go to Sleep (The Kinks cover) > Precious > Tattooed Love Boys


September 3 – Toronto, Ontario (Rogers Centre)*
September 5 – Detroit, MI (Shelter)^
September 7 – Minneapolis, MN (7th St Entry)^
September 9 – St. Louis, MO (Busch Stadium)*
September 17 – Leicester, UK (BBC Radio 2 In The Park)◊
September 19 – Paris, France (Maroquinerie)†
September 20 – Paris, France (Maroquinerie)†
September 21 – Utrecht, Netherlands (Tivoli Vredenburg Ronda)†
September 23 – Hamburg, Germany (Reeperbalm Festival)◊
September 25 – Berlin, Germany (Columbia Theatre)†
October 1 – Dana Point, CA (Ohana Festival)◊
October 2 – Los Angeles, CA (The Regent Theater)^
October 4 – Pioneertown, CA (Pappy + Harriet’s)^
October 6 – San Francisco, CA (Bimbo’s 365 Club)^

* With Guns N’ Roses
^ Headlining show (U.S.)
Festival appearance
Headlining show (Europe)

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