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BBC Norfolk - 18th July 2007

Review: Blondie at Thetford Forest
By Lee Allen.

Blondie closed this summer's Thetford Forest string of gigs, but was it an Atomic evening or did the cult New Yorkers leave the crowd Hanging On The Telephone? We sent Lee Allen to find out.

The last night of the summer gigs could not have been more perfect: a balmy sunny evening, the aroma of barbecued food wafting into the night air, 6,000 excited people and the iconic sounds of Blondie.

Opening the show
Before the main course, however, we were served a tasty entrée of Charlotte Hatherley.

Having spent 10 years as the only girl in Northern Irish indie-rock band Ash, she is now concentrating on her own material and has stepped firmly into the limelight with her own band.

I have never really been a fan of Ash, but Miss Hatherley's solo output is much more to my liking.

Now on her second album, The Deep Blue, she subtly mixes a pinch of Riot Grrl, a dollop of classic pop sensibilities and at least a kilo of indie cool to devastating effect.

A pleasing selection of old songs such as Kim Wilde and Bastardo from her first album, Grey Will Fade, sits nicely next to newer stuff such as Again and Siberia.

Winning over a partisan crowd is never easy, but when Charlotte and her band leave the stage the overwhelming cheers prove it can be done. Expect to see a lot from Charlotte over the next year.

What can you say about Blondie that has not been said before? They are truly the greatest icons of the 1970s' new wave punk, but they scored their first major hits with reggae, rock, disco and even hip-hop songs.

Ultimate front woman
In Debbie Harry they have the ultimate front woman, who went from the pages of underground punk magazines to the lead cover of every mainstream magazine across the world.

On top of that surely Debbie must have been the very first Riot Grrl and as for girl power sorry Spice Girls you were 20 years too late.

As they take to the stage 33 years after they first formed it is humbling to be in the presence of greatness.

It's easy to forget as 62-year-old Debbie bounces around the stage during Call Me that she is old enough to get to the gig using public transport for free!

Classic hit run-down
There are very few bands that can play a set spanning three decades which features so many hits.

Hanging On The Telephone followed by Atomic, Maria and the Tide Is High are all faultless classics.

Bit it's the set's final five songs which really ignites the crowd though and pushes them into delirium.

To be treated to Rapture, One Way, Denis, Please Please Me and then signing off with Heart Of Glass in such an intimate environment is unbelievable.

Walking back to the car park, every single fan seems to be a chattering mess of excitement; in shock at witnessing their heroes in the heart of a forest.

Whoever the Forestry Commission books for next year's gig bill, it will have to work hard to beat this one.

Blondie and Charlotte Hatherley performed at Thetford Forest on Saturday, 14 July, 2007.

Link: BBC Norfolk - July 2007


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