Rock Queen Chrissie Hynde and Pretenders Rule Arroyo Seco Weekend




Chrissie Hynde is the Queen of Arroyo Seco - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Chrissie Hynde is the Queen of Arroyo Seco - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Neil Young + Promise of the Real Score KO in Fest’s 2nd Year

Photos and Story by DONNA BALANCIA

PASADENA – In case there was any doubt, Chrissie Hynde is still the Queen of Rock N Roll.

The Pretenders front woman is second to none out there and the veteran proved it at Arroyo Seco Weekend on opening day Saturday.

Chrissie Hynde exudes sassy and sexy - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Chrissie Hynde exudes sassy and sexy – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

The Pretenders preceded Jack White and Neil Young and The Promise of the Real on the main stage outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  A bevy of rock stars are slated to appear this weekend with Robert Plant, Alanis Morissette, Kings of Leon and Gary Clark Jr. set for Sunday.

The Pretenders - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
The Pretenders – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Time Stands Still for Chrissie Hynde

It’s as if time has stood still for Hynde. Her voice is clear as a bell, she looks svelt, smiled the whole set long and took command of The Oaks stage like a boss, proving that Rock N Roll is still very much alive.  She sported a T-shirt the read: “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Working,” presumably to honor service animals, with jeans, thigh-high black suede boots and a pink three-quarter coat which she removed a few songs into the rockin’ set.

Chrissie Hynde takes no prisoners - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Chrissie Hynde takes no prisoners – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Hynde has endured a rash of hardships in life, including the death of bandmates, but brought all the emotion of her life to the audience Saturday. She made cracks like “This is for your mother” before playing “Back On The Chain Gang,” and boldly told the crowd she is looking for a bad boy before playing the 1981 tune “Bad Boys Get Spanked.” Some of the other crowd favorites on the setlist were “Talk of the Town,” “Thumbelina,” “Cuban Slide,” and the emotional “I’ll Stand By You.”

The Pretenders kill it at Arroyo Seco Weekend - Photo 2018 Donna Balancia
The Pretenders kill it at Arroyo Seco Weekend – Photo 2018 Donna Balancia

She gave props and played  “My City Was Gone,”  for “the Buckeyes in the audience,” which drew laughs from the crowd.

Like Hynde, Arroyo Seco Weekend, in its second year, has also endured remarkable moments in its short history with the deaths of last year’s headliner Tom Petty and soulful performer Charles Bradley.

SEE Last Year’s Arroyo Seco Weekend Coverage with Tom Petty here.

The night was an emotional experience for anyone who remembers The Pretenders in their heyday of the 1980s. Hynde is proof that one can put aside this bullshit of getting mature “gracefully.”  Hynde is clearly fighting it with every ounce in her body and she is that much the better for it. She is truly iconic.

Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde is rockin – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Neil Young and The Promise of the Real

Speaking of “Bullshit,” young Micah Nelson, AKA Particle Kid, got to perform his song, “Everything Is Bullshit,” with his brother Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real, which supported Saturday headliner, the legendary Neil Young.

But while Micah brought the crowd to tears of laughter, his brother Lukas performed and sang “Forget About Georgia,” moving the crowd with the song’s beauty.

Neil Young teaches Micah Nelson at Arroyo Seco - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Neil Young teaches Micah Nelson at Arroyo Seco – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Young hit all the right notes, sending the crowd of an estimated 60,000 into fits alternating between swooning and swearing with reminiscent moments and raucous songs.

Neil Young and The Promise of the Real featuring Willie Nelson's sons - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Neil Young and The Promise of the Real featuring Willie Nelson’s sons – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

 

He played some beloved tunes like “Ohio,” which was one of three encore songs, “Cortez The Killer,” and “Hey Hey, My My.” Young performed “I Am A Child” in honor of “kids in cages,” he said.

The audience, about half of which were under 40, got into the rowdy “Rockin In The Free World” and Young had plenty of help keeping the party going with his band on stage.

A great night with Neil Young and The Promise of the Real at Arroyo Seco - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
A great night with Neil Young and The Promise of the Real at Arroyo Seco – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Jack White Blue With Photography

Jack White put on a strong performance, including opening with a countdown clock ticking down to his set. The blue-themed stage complete with live, 20-foot-tall blue-tinted video of the band, enhanced the performance of White and the group, who played some of the new ones off the album Boarding House Reach as well as the favorites.

He definitely hates having his photograph taken and apparently hates being videoed by the crowd as he covered his face and turned away several times during the set.

Jack White - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Jack White – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

 

 

Kamasi Washington and Dad Rickey Washington

Kamasi Washington brought his father Rickey Washington on stage for his performance. He said some important words about cherishing diversity.

Kamasi Washington looks admiringly at his dad, Rickey Washington - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Kamasi Washington looks admiringly at his dad, Rickey Washington – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Kamasi Washington and His Words of Inclusivity

“We’ve been talking a lot since Harmony of Difference,” Kamasi Washington said. “The diversity we have here in this country and on this planet is not something to be tolerated, it’s something to be celebrated.”  He played the emotional “Will You Sing,” the last song off the Heaven side of his new double album, Heaven and Earth.

Kamasi Washington has a new album, 'Heaven and Earth' - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Kamasi Washington has a new album, ‘Heaven and Earth’ – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Dwight Twilley performed a range of tunes he made famous in the 1970s, while across the way Jeff Goldblum, Margo Price, The Specials, Shakey Graves and Milk Carton Kids were on Sycamore and Willow stages.

The festival continues Sunday with Robert Plant, Kings of Leon, Third Eye Blind.

More Photos of Neil Young, Jack White and The Pretenders: