Let’s get it out of the way at the start: No, Chrissie Hynde didn’t sing any Pretenders songs. Nor did her cohort, Welsh-born rocker J.P. Jones.
In fact, when Hynde and her new musical project pulled out their lone cover tune of the evening, it was a wholly unexpected blast through Moby Grape’s “Murder in My Heart for the Judge,” a soulful, but certainly tough garage rocker.
JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys – also featuring guitarist Patrick Murdoch, bassist Vezio Bacci and drummer Geoff Holroyde – came amped up and plugged in, which was the biggest problem of the night. Not that they were particularly loud, but a brace of electric instruments always tends to fight the superb natural acoustics of the Music Hall.
And very sadly, Hynde’s vocals were all but buried in the mix. I would have given anything to walk over to the sound board and crank her vocal mic up a notch or two.
When you could hear her sufficiently, Hynde’s vocals sounded fabulous – as sultry as ever. But she seemed a bit uncomfortable and diffident on the stage, as though she was trying to fit in and be just one of the boys on stage, although she knew that her talents would clearly overpower the rest of the band if she decided to cut loose.
The bulk of the evening’s songs were drawn from the band’s album lone album, “Fidelity!,” which detail the budding romantic interest between Hynde and Jones, and their 30-year age difference.
In introducing “Perfect Lover,” Hynde explained, “It’s our saddest song, but for some reason it seems to get a lot of laughs. So feel free to laugh at our pain.” Then she sang, “I found my perfect lover, but he’s only half my age / He was learning how to stand when I was wearing my first wedding band / I found my perfect lover, but I have to turn the page / But I want him in my kitchen and standing on my stage.”
As a vocalist, Jones couldn’t quite measure up to Hynde, even in her reduced volume capacity. (Of course, few singers can.) There’s a Bono-esque quality to his delivery, but when given the spotlight on his own for “Leave Me If You Must,” he seemed too tentative and flubbed the lyrics.
And JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys get this year’s Bum-Rushing the Season Award for wrapping up their show with “It’s Christmas Soon.” Christmas? Heck, it’s not even Columbus Day yet…
Singer-songwriter Amy Correia and her electric bassist opened the show with a sharp, soulful 35-minute set that found her switching between bariton uke and guitar for songs about war (“Took Him Away”), Jeff Buckley (“Blind River Boy”) and sexual frustration (“Sexual Frustration”). With a decidedly southern accent, she also hit the mark with a bluesy, pared-down rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and a closing a cappella gospel tune.
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Excerpt from Michael Hochandel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “They (Jones and Hynde) alternated short phrases in ‘If You Were My Age,’ and traded verses more often, as in ‘Australia.’ Hynde’s voice went lower than JP’s except when she went falsetto. Their difference in skill, power and confidence, however, emerged in ‘Leave Me If You Must,’ JP getting lost in the lyrics in a song designed to feature him. Then Hynde paid tribute to his Welsh homeland in ‘Misty Valleys,’ uncorking a tremendous cadenza way up high, sonically and emotionally.”
JP, CHRISSIE & THE FAIRGROUND BOYS SET LIST
If You Were My Age
If You Let Me
Leave Me If You Must
You’re the One That I Should Marry
I’ll Never Drink Again
Murder in My Heart (Moby Grape)
It’s Christmas Soon