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thisislondon - 12th July 2007


Hammersmith Apollo 
Queen Caroline Street, W6 9QH 

Still a platinum Blondie at 62
By David Smyth, Evening Standard

Harry still resonated star quality at 62

Nine years since they reunited, after a couple of middling comeback albums Blondie once again seem to be grinding to a halt, but singer and focal point Deborah Harry is going solo again while the band launch a musical. 

Desperately Seeking Susan is to become a stage show featuring Blondie songs, opening at the Novello Theatre in the West End on 12 October. 

Last night's show, probably their last headlining set in London for some time, demonstrated that their 30-year back catalogue is one of the few that can justify the potentially disastrous transition to the stage. 

The opening volley of Call Me, Dreaming, Union City Blue and Hanging On The Telephone, were all great enough to be the climactic encore on any other night. 

Even Atomic, showcasing one of the most familiar guitar licks in pop, was casually thrown in after just six songs, creating such a hysterical response from the fans around me that I was soon wearing my drink. 

Harry still resonated star quality at 62. Around the time of the film Desperately Seeking Susan, her legacy as pop's dominant female must have had a profound influence on its star, Madonna. She strutted about the stage, dancing with poise, and though she occasionally sneaked around the high notes, she still knew every word of the prototype rap in Rapture. 

The rest of the all-male band, including guitarist and Harry's former beau Chris Stein and a few younger session guys, simply stared intently at their instruments, although the singer was almost matched for watchability by drummer Clem Burke. He pounded magnificently throughout, firing off multiple drum fills, throwing his sticks high in the air and occasionally catching them, all while wearing a suit. 

A smattering of newer material was thrown in, including comeback number one Maria, the slinky disco of Good Boys and the unfortunately pretty awful ska of Screaming Skin. But it is clear that the band now recognise that their greatest songs will be impossible to match. 

That could be a depressing thought, but they can take comfort in the fact that only a handful of groups have penned such a mass of solid gold classics, all of which were exuberantly aired. 

When that musical opens, even if everything else about it is terrible, those songs will still shine.

Link: thisislondon - 12th July 2007

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