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seattlepi - Monday 26th April 2004

Blondie stays true to trashy, randy roots
Harry captivates during set that shows the band's new songs can run with classics

By BILL WHITE
SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER

Debbie Harry is no soccer mom.

At 58, she is as trashy and bewitching as ever. Saturday's sold-out crowd at the Showbox was high on anticipation as she took the stage. Packed into a jezebel-red dress, the timeless diva shimmied and swayed her way through 100 minutes of music that shattered the barriers between new-wave, punk, disco, dance and pop.

In addition to founding member Chris Stein on guitar, Blondie included drummer Clem Burke, bassist Leigh Foxx and new member Kevin Patrick, who winked at the girls as much as he plinked at the keyboards. 

Harry worked the club as if she owned it, smiling and waving at members of the audience as if she were spotting and acknowledging old friends. 

Songs from the new album, "The Curse of Blondie," with such lyrics as "good boys finish last," "let's wake the rooster" and "touch is the tingler" show that Harry's randy lyrical concerns have not been replaced by the kind of middle-aged angst that have fossilized so many of her contemporaries.

In fact, the new songs are so good that they were indistinguishable from classics such as "Dreaming" and "Hanging on the Telephone." "Hello Joe," written for Joey Ramone, sounded like an outtake from "Parallel Lines." "Rules for Living" was the kind of song that becomes instantly memorable through a single repeated phrase.

The band was drum-heavy throughout the night, with a pervasive dance beat that didn't give way to rock 'n' roll until the evening's first encore, a ravishingly ravaged version of "Call Me."

"Fade Away and Radiate" was a surprise closer for the three-song encore, making a second encore imperative, because the band had not yet played "Heart of Glass," the No. 1 disco hit that clenched their international reputation.

As a performer, Harry comes from the days before corporate makeovers were the rule. There are no teams of choreographers to straighten out her awkwardness. There are no dressers or hairdressers employed to keep her appearance fresh throughout the night.

Hers is a homespun glamour that comes from the heart, which is why young people still respond to her.

The fans who filled the Showbox on Saturday night were clearly in awe of this woman who dared to be trashy before trashy was chic, who played dance music in rock clubs when punks and discos never mixed and created a sound that has never gone out of style.

Link: seattlepi - Monday 26th April 2004


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