NME - 3rd August 1991
Edited by Steve Lamacq
[Picture caption: La Harry: ripping Madonna to shreds.]
LONDON HAMMERSMITH ODEON
TABLOID ADDICTS amongst you may recall recent cruel shots of Deborah Harry stunning the hairies at the INXS Wembley bonanza with her impersonation of an all-in wrestler on steroids. Let's be frank, the girl has her 'cuddly' moments, but surely beauty this rare and definitive can weather the odd choc-binge or five.
While others attain icon status by dint of early death or a lifetime's wilful notoriety, La Harry was born with it, bursting from the womb nonchalantly clutching a signed character reference to God. Indeed, to knock Debbie is to commit a singular form of blasphemy - the pop equivalent of telling Christ to "Get a move on... that cross ain't that heavy!"
Now I've got that off my triple A cup I can tell you that tonight Debbie (Deborah when she's in a posh mood) is dazzling to the point where sunglasses become a medical necessity. Certain artists perform their back catalogues with all the vivacity of pensioners digging their own graves, Debbie tears through a set mainly comprised of Blondie classics like a swan with a comet up its ass.
Never mind that visually she is as fresh and desirable as the first grope of summer. Her voice - the wicked, flirty tone of which has been known to turn Saints into Heavy Breathers - is in excellent fettle. Neither self-deferential or retch-makingly nostalgic, this woman is at times acutely terrifying.
Cracking a bullwhip at the audience when the singalongs fade into mumblealongs and, at one notable point, ramming her posterior into the faces of those trembling minions who'd mistakenly considered themselves 'hard' enough to stand at the front. No wonder Chris Stein hangs a cloth over his head. Just watching her in action is like participating in some obscene act.
The effect on the (for the main part) youthful crowd is hypnotic. Boys stare and dream, hands fidgeting in pockets. Terminally heterosexual girls ponder wistfully on the merits of lesbianism. Debbie merely rocks on, seemingly unaware of her continuing status as the Western World's Greatest Walking Aphrodisiac. Put that in your coned bra and stroke it, Madonna!
PS: Detractors take note: God left a message on my answer machine last night. Come the Day of Judgement, the next spiritually underweight 'Judas' to 'rib our Debbie' will be forced to munch his/her own bowel movements for all eternity. You have been warned.
Another gig to be seen at this week or suffer the death of a thousand social snubs was DEBORAH HARRY at the Hammersmith Odious. Weeping with gratitude were ANDY BELL who almost swooned when he met the fine woman backstage afterwards, THE THOMPSON TWINS (yes, pop fans, medical science is wasting tax-payers money keeping them alive), PAM HOGG, BLACK FRANCIS, WAYNE (or is it JAYNE again?) COUNTY and an utterly inebriated MARK SHAW of THEN JERICO. The MANIC STREET PREACHERS would have been there but forces beyond their control kept them ensconced in their rehearsal rooms in a gothic mansion.