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Milton Lage
Pretenders, Shirley Manson, Iggy Pop
Writing Credits:

The Pretenders perform with special guests including Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Kings of Leon and Incubus.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby 5.1
English PCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 65 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 7/12/2019

• “Decades Rock Confidential” Featurettes
• Slideshow
• Trailers
• DVD Copy
• CD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Pretenders: With Friends [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 30, 2019)

Back in 2005-06, VH1 aired a short-lived series called Decades Rock Live. Across its handful of episodes, long-established artists would team with various guests.

From summer 2006, Pretenders: With Friends brings us the Chrissie Hynde-led band plus a mix of partners. The show mostly focuses on Pretenders’ material but it also integrates a few of the guests’ tracks as well.

From 1980’s Pretenders, we find “Precious”, “Up the Neck” (with Kings of Leon), “The Wait”, “Brass in Pocket” and “Mystery Achievement”. 1981’s Pretenders II delivers “Message of Love” (with Incubus), “Talk of the Town” (with Shirley Manson), and “Day After Day”.

With 1984’s Learning to Crawl, we locate “Back on the Chain Gang” and “Middle of the Road” (with Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson, Kings of Leon and Incubus). For the final Pretenders songs, we discover “The Losing” and “Fools Must Die” (with Iggy Pop) off of 2002’s Loose Screw.

The remaining tracks stem from the guests’ catalogs. “Only Happy When It Rains” derives from Shirley Manson’s band Garbage, and Kings of Leon’s “The Bucket” appears. Incubus earns representation from “Drive” and Iggy Pop’s “Candy” finishes matters.

Note that this doesn’t include the full set from the August 2006 concert. For pure Pretenders performances, this release drops “Night in My Veins” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong”.

The set also omits two Incubus tracks via “A Kiss to Send Us Off” and “Anna Molly” as well as a Manson duet on Pretenders’ “Kid”. Kings of Leon’s “Molly’s Chambers” and Iggy Pop’s “Lie to Me” also get the boot.

Though part of the original concert, I’d guess that they didn’t make the broadcast and thus fail to appear here. It seems like a shame that this release doesn’t present the entire, uncut show – or at least add the other songs as bonus tracks.

To me, the guest spots become the iffiest aspects of the show. That’s less a reflection on the caliber of the added musicians and more a view of the tentative nature of their performances.

My biggest disappointment came from Manson’s turn. I love Garbage, and Shirley is a simply stellar frontwoman, one who dominates the stage and imposes her will on an audience.

You wouldn’t get that from her appearance here. Shirley idolizes Hynde, and I suspect that nerves played a big part in her lackluster spot.

Oh, Manson sounds fine, and since she and Hynde share similar voices, the two blend well. However, Shirley – as dynamic as could be at Garbage shows – seems painfully reserved here. The two Manson/Pretenders tracks are decent but given how good I know Shirley can be, they come as a letdown.

I saw Kings of Leon open for U2 in 2005 and then again as the intro to Pearl Jam in 2008. Their 2005 performances seemed completely forgettable, but by 2008, they’d developed into a pretty tight, engaging live act.

Unfortunately, the Kings seen here lean toward that underwhelming 2005 iteration. Because they weren’t impressive back then, I’m not surprised they seem overmatched on stage with the Pretenders, but the dire lack of magnetism from anyone in Kings makes their performance inert.

Unlike the other three guests, I never saw Incubus, and until I got this disc, I’m not sure I’d ever heard any of their songs. Based on the tracks found here, they seem just as tentative as Shirley and the Kings.

“Drive” strikes me as forgettable, and the version of “Message of Love” also fails to ignite. Incubus vocalist Brandon Boyd holds his own, but the decision to use Incubus as the almost-full band instead of Pretenders doesn’t work, as Incubus plays a drab version of the song.

Of the whole bunch, only Iggy Pop can be seen as a peer of Hynde’s. Granted, Iggy’s recording career started a good decade before Chrissie’s, but the two are close to the same age, so I see them as generationally similar.

In any case, it’s clear Iggy wouldn’t suffer from the same sense of intimidation, and he definitely offers the most magnetic presence of the guests. Indeed, Iggy essentially takes over the stage during his tracks, so he easily becomes the strongest of the bunch.

The show fares best when it simply sticks with Pretenders sans accompaniment. Even though most of the songs were already 20-plus years old by the time of this concert, Hynde delivers them with gusto, and her voice sounds as strong as ever.

Original members Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott died back in the band’s early years, so in addition to Hynde, only drummer Martin Chambers remains from the founding version. Not that he’s been a constant, as he quit in 1986 and didn’t return until 1994.

Still, that makes Chambers a pretty steady member of the band, and he’s the only thing that keeps “Pretenders” from being strictly “The Chrissie Hynde Band”. Admittedly, it’s always been unclear how much of a “real band” Pretenders were, but at least Chambers ensures another connection to the original lineup.

Newer members Adam Seymour on guitar and Nick Wilkinson on bass perform ably. They’re not flashy but they do the job.

In terms of the home video presentation itself, Pretenders comes from one flaw: too damned many crowd shots. These subside somewhat as the program progresses, but I still think we find too many of them, and they create a sporadic annoyance.

Otherwise, director Milton Lage shows good restraint. The program lacks any visual affectations, and Lage makes no attempt to turn this into a long music video.

Editing seems fairly sedate, and this allows us to enjoy the show without cheap, tacky attempts to “enliven” the proceedings. I appreciate that, as too many concert shows work overtime to throw visual “flair” our way.

Overall, Pretenders with Friends becomes erratic but enjoyable. It works best when it concentrates on its title band.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Pretenders with Friends appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image didn’t excel but it seemed more than adequate.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Some occasional softness interfered, but those elements didn’t create notable distractions, and the majority of the program seemed reasonably well-defined.

Jaggies and moiré effects remained absent. No signs of edge haloes or source flaws materialized.

In terms of colors, the lighting and video created most of the hues. The band tended toward dark clothes, so they didn’t give the show visual pizzazz, but the other components added a varied palette that looked clear and smooth.

Blacks were deep and tight, and shadows showed reasonable accuracy. Nothing here dazzled but the visuals were fine.

As for the Blu-ray’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a reasonable sonic experience. The mix mostly focused on the front, where the instruments provided good stereo spread.

The surrounds added reinforcement and crowd noise but didn’t play a major part. Some semi-unique instrumentation occasionally cropped up in the back speakers, but those moments didn’t occur often.

Audio quality remained positive. Vocals seemed natural and broad, and instruments showed nice range and punch.

Bass response added some depth and the mix displayed good dynamics. Though not great, this became a better than average mix – albeit one that lost points due to the absence of a lossless option.

Under Decades Rock Confidential, we locate seven featurettes. These occupy a total of eight minutes, 21 seconds and involve an interview with Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers, Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson, Kings of Leon’s Nathan and Jared Followill, and Incubus’s Mike Einziger and Brandon Boyd.

They discuss aspects of their careers and songs. A few fun stories emerge but not much substance comes out here.

In addition to trailers for Pretenders and other Cleopatra Entertainment releases, we find a Slideshow. It spans two minutes, 26 seconds and includes 29 photos from the show. It’s decent but forgettable.

Two extra discs appear, as we get a DVD copy of the show. We also find a CD copy of the concert. The CD includes all the same songs as the Blu-ray and the DVD.

Still rocking decades after their debut, Pretenders: With Friends fares best when it concentrates on the main band. The guests don’t mesh especially well and make this an erratic show. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio as well as a few bonus materials. There’s enough here to make this an enjoyable concert but I’d prefer Pretenders on their own.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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