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EARVOLUTION - 27th June 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Blondie Follows Parallel Lines In New York City
By: David Schultz
It’s hard watching some of your idols get old. When I was younger, I had a poster of Deborah Harry on my bedroom wall and she’s part of the reason I hit puberty. In my fondest printable memories of Deborah Harry, she’s fronting Blondie with a blank expression on her face that I would later learn was likely the result of excessive drug use. Three decades later at New York City’s Nokia Theater, the thousand yard stare is still there, only now it’s permanently Botoxed in place. Tarted up a bit like an inappropriately dressed granny, the 63-year-old Harry may no longer be the subject of teenage fantasies, but at the Nokia she showed glimpses of the foxy young thing she used to be. Even if her slightly retro, dance moves are a little stiff and awkward, she, Clem Burke and Chris Stein had enough left in their collective tank to remind an enthusiastic crowd that their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was no fluke.
In the haze of the post Studio 54 era, Blondie had a three album swing - Parallel Lines, Eat To The Beat and Autoamerican – that ranks up there with the finest prolific creative output of that era. On “Call Me” and other songs, Blondie incorporated synthesizers well before the 80s made them a joke, mixed reggae rhythms with punk attitude to score a #1 hit with their cover of “The Tide Is High” and on “Rapture,” became the first act to integrate rap into a song and introduce it to mainstream audiences as more than an urban novelty. At the Nokia, they showed glimpses of the inventiveness that carried them from the New York underground to national TV appearances like Dick Clark’s New Year Eve. There were moments when Blondie’s sound was as fresh as it was three decades ago and during these spots; it was easy to remember that Blondie was part of the same CBGB scene that spawned Television, The Talking Heads and Patti Smith.
Their 90 minute set, focused primarily on commemorating the 30th anniversary of Parallel Lines, touched on some of their best songs moments but didn’t quite cover everything. Criminally missing from the set list were “Atomic,” “Union City Blue” and “Dreaming,” arguably their best work from Eat To The Beat. Were they moved out of the set for time constraints, all could be forgiven. However, they were omitted to make room for a misguided albeit punked up cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and a tepid cover of “Get Off My Cloud.” Many people waited nearly 30 years to see Blondie play their songs on stage and to fill their encore with bar band style, time wasting covers robbed the audience of what many truly wanted to hear.
Age may have robbed some of the ragged punky glory from the tempo and delivery of the songs and Harry’s call and response during “One Way Or Another” seemed a bit cliché and slightly beneath her but this is still a band that knows what to do with a song. During “Rapture,” Harry moved to the side of the stage while the band drifted into some blues improvisation that segued into a near obligatory couple verses of “Hey Bo Diddley.” Strutting the stage while belting out the song’s oddball rap about a man from Mars who eats cars and finally guitars, Harry showed the poise and brash demeanor that made her the poster girl for the new wave era.
Harry may be little older but at heart not much has changed. Once she finished “Just Go Away,” Harry declared they were finished with the album and that she was also finished with her high heels, ripping them off her feet and tossing them into the audience. You may be able to dress up the old punk rocker but inside she’s still the same old hellcat.
EARVOLUTION - 27th June 2008