The Pretenders

Writing about the new Pretenders album invites all sorts of Thomas Wolfe references. In 1984, Chrissie Hynde looked homeward and sang “My City Was Gone,” a masterpiece that dealt with the cultural and economic decay of her native Ohio, specifically her hometown. Delivered with both heartfelt regret and pity for the place, the song certainly made it sound like she’d be following it up with her own version of You Can’t Go Home Again. But Hynde is made of nails and recently did the opposite after decades spent living abroad: She moved back to Akron (and, of all things, opened a vegan restaurant there). As the title suggests, this new album—Break Up the Concrete—was inspired by Hynde’s return to her roots. Her first collection of original material since 1990, Concrete is a no-bullshit platter of American rock. Some songs traffic in rollicking, hyped-up blues à la Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” while others sound like stripped-down Lucinda Williams ballads. The production is raw, evoking Akron’s industrial cityscape. But it’s also fitting for Hynde’s personality, which is as rough and blunt as the factory workers of her hometown. In concert, she puffs up her chest and plays the toughest girl in the room. When I saw her open for Neil Young in 2002, she not only made fun of the old hippies in the front rows, but had the audacity to upstage Neil by playing two of his own songs...only to be called back out for an encore. Tonight, Ingrid Michaelson and guests share the bill. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 292-2787, www.ticketmaster.com. $45-$65. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN J. BARR

Sat., Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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