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wharf.co.uk - 29th July 2008

Review: Blondie at the British International Motor Show

By John Hill on July 29, 2008 11:56 AM

DRIVE-TIME favourites Blondie kick off just as a lumbering passenger jet thunders imposingly over the stage.

"This is a beautiful spot, but it's a little remote", muses Debbie Harry, in the midst of a car park a little way east of Royal Docks' Excel centre.

Admittedly, we are several stops from the lights of the West End, on the business end of a commercial flight path.

But we're also in the centre of one of the year's biggest UK motor shows, and there are few better bands for a top-down cruise down a highway than '70s legends Blondie.

The New York new wave and punk rock poster-children are part of a ten-day "music festival" of gigs, featuring Top Gear soundtrack darlings such as Alice Cooper, Status Quo, Deep Purple, Chicago and Meat Loaf.

They're here as part of a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of Parallel Lines, an album so stupidly crammed with anthemic rock hits that it would make a pretty good career on its own.

No one was expecting era-defining drama on the scale of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey or Bob Dylan at Newport, but Blondie have a strong, head-banging set list and they've had it lying around long enough to know how to use it properly.

Any band that can draw on a bouncing classic like One Way or Another as a second song and still have plenty in the tank for a one-and-a-half hour set is going to be more than okay in front of a friendly crowd. And although many had decided to relax in the bleachers rather than fill the gaps in the standing area, those that chose to leap around were more than satisfied by this polished product.

Blondie are a juggernaut driven by mad thumping drums and a crunchy collection of barre chords. But the key to a successful gig is lead singer Debbie Harry, and HR Giger's one-time muse was on good form.

The rock icon doesn't go leaping about the stage, but her pipes are still strong enough to belt out the challenging high notes in songs such as Maria and Heart of Glass. Down in the car park standing pit, there are plenty of people to jump around for her.

While I'm not a big fan of encore tune The Tide Is High, it allowed us to delay the inevitable trek home on the disrupted Jubilee line. And while the tired masses huddled at Canning Town, they at least had a few choice melodies to hum.

Link: wharf.co.uk - 29th July 2008

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