Melody Maker - 13th July 1991
Melody Maker - July 13th 1991 - page 25
DEBORAH HARRY - LIVE
COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL
Written by Chris Roberts
THIS is the last time I'll ever write about you.
"Aw shit, don't tell me that."
It is not, strickly speaking, triumphant. It is not the glorious pyrotechnic farewell, for me, that the good books of symmetry and symbolism foretold, and it is not a great Deborah Harry gig. This is, after all, but only after all, real life. It's said that Eno left Roxy Music after he caught himself thinking about the laundry onstage during "Pyjamarama". Perhaps I left live reviewing after I caught myself studying what the guy on the mixing desk was doing during "Atomic".
This is not to say there weren't moments, and a Deborah Harry moment is worth most people's lifetimes. She's still the best comedienne in rock, and the encores of ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" and Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll" (you better believe it!) are phenomenally absurd and arrogant, like having a tank driven by a starling roll over your chest. I'd back 90 per cent of the songs on display to take out anybody else in the world's songs in the fourth, and "Comic Books" is one of the great under-appreciated trash/thrash nonpareils.
Maybe it's the hall (flashbacks to school assembly), maybe it's the lights (all that white, gimme some dark), but the atmosphere isn't sparking from the start. Last year's Borderline shows were the return of the unvanquished heroine, an Aryan apex, the only timewarp ever to be aesthetically perfect. This run seems to be more a case of flogging the latest greatest his package (just gone platinum, see) to an increasingly plain, adult, audience. The band do fine and all that, one can have no complaints about "Union City Blue" being part of your evening, Debbie winds everyone up and f***s about as perversely as ever (she's in spectacular voice), it's just that a setlist like that should move mountains as easily as you or I blink.
Tonight, only "Presence Dear" (because I cannot hear it without my heart shredding), "Hanging On The Telephone" (because it fills the jugular with paraffin), and "Brite Side" (because it is there) truly thrill the blood.
Deborah reads out a list of people she'd like to thank for yesterday's birthday cards. This takes so long that the band, wryly misled by Chris Stein, have to contort an aborted "Waiting For The Man" into "Rip Her To Shreds". Filled with self-loathing for forgetting madam's birthday, I console myself later over smoked salmon and a few quiet gins at the Hilton (did you get that everybody? Shall I write it a little louder?) by telling her it was a shame she kept missing Stein with a bullwhip. She explains that she didn't want to hurt him, just to make it look as if she wanted to. I then listen intently to her explanation of how the First World War started and how this affects the new Europe.
We should probably end with: Helen of Troy.
Which birthday? Oh come on, there's a gentleman in me as well as a 17-year-old jerk.