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CANOE - JAM! - 12th June 2008

Concert Review: Blondie

Casino Rama, Ontario - June 12, 2008

RAMA, Ont. - Blondie's breakthrough album, Parallel Lines, turned 30 this year.

So the New Wave veterans, fronted by the incomparable Debbie Harry, are back on the road performing their seminal disc from start to finish, plus throwing in some other hits and material from Harry's most recent solo album, 2007's Necessary Evil.

The only Canadian stop on the Parallel Lines 30th Anniversary tour was two back-to-back stops at Casino Rama that kicked off Thursday night.

Their backdrop even incorporated the black and white parallel lines that dominated the memorable album art - yes kids, those were the days when we stared at album covers for hours on end while listening to the record from start to finish.

Harry, who turns 63 on July 1, sounded as good and looked as great as she ever did back in the band's heyday when she was a major stylesetter.

Decked out in a black and white stripped skirt and matching sleeves, red tank top, and matching converse sneakers, and black shades, with her trademark blonde bob haircut blowing in the breeze created by two fans in front of her, she personified cool.

The crowd rushed the front of the stage from the opening chords of Hanging On The Telephone and remained there for the duration of the night and someone even handed Harry a bouquet of flowers during One Way Or Another.

Those songs plus other Parallel Lines classics like the energetic Pretty Baby - with Harry waving and high-fiving various audience members while she prowled the stage - I Know But I Don't Know, 11:59, Will Anything Happen, Sunday Girl, Heart Of Glass, and I'm Gonna Love You Too took the crowd back to a time when albums still mattered.

"Some days it feels like more than 30, and some days it feels like less than 30," joked Harry, who eventually discarded her shades.

Other highlights during the 85-minute set included the Blondie comeback hit, Maria, the pioneering rap-disco song, Rapture, which incorporated a bit of Hey Bo Diddley in a shout-out to the legendary guitarist who recently passed away, Tide Is High, and a punk version of Celine Dion's soaring pop anthem My Heart Will Go On.

"This is for all you Canadians," said Harry, who even incorporated Dion's chest-pounding antics during the song.

The only other original band members are guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke, the latter who brilliantly pounded away on his kit while wearing a massive set of earphones and drove the show with his infectious beat. (Burke also wore a CBGB shirt in a nod to the now shuttered New York punk club where Blondie performed their early gigs.)

Stein was no slouch either delivering some stellar guitar moments during Picture This, I Know But I Don't Know, Maria, Rapture, Harry's reggae-tinged solo tune, Screaming Skin, and the title track from Necessary Evil.

Joining the threesome were more recent recruits, bassist Leigh Foxx, guitarist Paul Carbonara and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen, with Foxx and Carbonara also around when Blondie last played in Toronto at the Guvernment in 2004. (Harry played a solo show at the Phoenix last November that was one of the best gigs of the year.)

"Is anybody winning any dough out there?" said Harry. "I want to meet the winners."

Chances are she did.

Link: CANOE - JAM! - 12th June 2008

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