The Pretenders

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Graeme Thomson, four stars

OLD Father Time is on Chrissie Hynde’s case. After dedicating a song to Tom Petty (she chooses the sparkling Stop Your Sobbing: “let’s cheer ourselves up”) and pondering the incongruity of Paul Simenon and Paul Cook turning 60 (“punk got old!”), she has a senior moment during Middle Of The Road, forgetting the entire second verse.

Everything else about Hynde, however, feels timeless: same hair, same tough-and-tender rock classicism, same vocal prowess. From the moment The Pretenders kick off with Alone, the title track from their latest album, to the encore of Brass In Pocket two hours later, it’s clear that, at 66, age has not diminished Hynde’s pipes, nor her spirit. Strutting and sashaying in sleeveless T-shirt, skinny jeans and heels, she’s in compelling form.

The set is a well-judged mix of new and old. The slinky Let’s Get Lost and mournful Death Is Not Enough are as immediate as anything Hynde has ever written, but it’s the oldies which deliver. Where Private Life’s prowling reggae pulse spreads dark dread, Back On The Chain Gang is simply joyous. Covered by Morrissey for the BBC earlier this week, The Pretenders show him how it should be done, before returning the favour with a – perfunctory – rendition of Everyday Is Like Sunday. Kid is dedicated to Hynde’s late band mates, James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon. Although drummer Martin Chambers is the only other original Pretender on stage, Hynde has a terrific new foil in guitarist James Walbourne.

The set peaks too early, with a thrilling run of hits: Hymn To Her, I’ll Stand By You, Stop Your Sobbing, Don’t Get Me Wrong, Night In My Veins. The scrappy finale meanders, until Brass In Pocket brings everything back into focus. “I’m special, so special,” sings Hynde. She’s not wrong.