Melody Maker - 14th Oct 1989
Melody Maker - October 14th 1989 - page 14
Written by Chris Roberts
MY ticket for Deborah Harry's opening night says Number001. You Bet. This week I am a fanatic (dictionary definition: filled with abnormal enthusiasm). This week I get called many things, mainly "adolescent", "a sick man" and "Chris me old mate good to see you fancy a drink do you reckon you could introduce me?". This week is a magnificent celebration of The Pop Star.
Outside, people offer ludicrous sums of money for tickets. Inside, we worship. At the end of each night everyone leaves dazed, babbling, radiant.
The first night, we hold our breath. There is, of course, the possibility that this could be a disaster, a tarnishing. We do have to allow the possibility. But not for long. Before you can say, "Is this really happening?" Deborah is onstage, resplendant in scarlet dress and gold crucifix, sighing the Smokey Robinson song of which Blondie somehow doubled the meaning: "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game". Everyone stares. Then grins.
It sinks in that the motions of those tiny face muscles are more transcendental and unique than any camera could tell. That this beauty was not transient. The vultures are silenced. We're all in the presence of... well, as Deborah so succinctly puts it: "This is great!" "Dreaming" barges in, breathless and blushing and by the time we've reached "dream dream, only for a little while", I am beside myself. I have ascended on a vector of perfect contentment.
Fortunately special celebrity guest reviewer Andrea Lewis of The Darling Buds is also beside myself and offers the following observations. That Debbie is so gorgeous. Yes. That Chris Stein is looking past his best, to put it gently, but that we love him anyway for so obviously appreciating what's going on here.
That the two dark-haired rockbirds on guitar and keyboards are shrewdly cast, that the bassist is a dork, that the drummer replicates Clem Burke just fine.
The third number is "Rapture". Andrea declares she's never seen me so happy and later announces, correctly, that it's Christmas. Then wonders aloud if God can smile like Debbie can. Tonight is, as I report to the earthlings the next day, the greatest thing ever seen by anyone anywhere ever...
IT'S not just easy nostalgia. Actually. Though all the old diamonds are brighter than oxygen, the tracks from "Def Dumb and Blonde" are viciously vampish (the moment in "Get Your Way" where a shout of "Rock the house!" leads to a metal mayhem; the blissful serenity of "Brite Side"), and the set's climax is a Stoogish thrash of "Comic Books", "Detroit 442", "Bike Boy", and the dramatic trance of "Cautious Lip", the most enigmatic song ever written. The new single, "I Want That Man", snarled with venom, wins converts. Debbie is lethal in leopardskin.
Songs played this week which I haven't yet mentioned: "Bugeye", "The Tide Is High", "Heart Of Glass", "Lovelight", "Call Me", "Highwire", "In Love With Love", "Close Your Eyes", "The Ramones' "Pet Sematary", and on the last night only, "French Kissin' In The U.S.A." Oh, and "I'm Always Touched By Your Presence Dear".
Tonight's special celebrity guest reviewer is Samantha Fox, who comments: "Fantastic! She's my idol!" Sam is in her fourth term at the Roberts academy of objective music journalism and is one of our most promising pupils.
GET up. Think about life a bit. Smash up my guitar, as chance would have it. Go to the Debbie Harry gig. By now I cannot spell or verbalise sentences but have worked out that, if you shove what's left of your head in the speakers on the right, you have quite a good view. Van Gogh merely lost an ear for art; me I lost one for Debbie in black.
Tonight Ms Harry and Mr Stein ask the audience to make some animal noises. They oblige to the max. It is very strange. Hearing "Heart of Glass" live in 1989 makes you wonder why anyone else bothers, why indeed I have been guilty of worshipping false gods all these years. Tonight Debbie starts a rant about: "So this tough chick stuff, you wanna know what tough means?", then forgets what she is saying. "The Sun was right," interjects Stein, "her mind is gone." "Hell," laughs Debbie at us, "whadda you care? Very nice, very nice, yeah."
Has anyone ever noticed what a superbly astute singer she is? Tonight's special celebrity guest reviewer is my mate Lucy who indicates that Debbie's human vulnerability is more evident than you'd expect. Ah but it always was, that's the thing.
ON Monday, shortly after I told Alannah Currie that I wasn't too keen on the Thompson Twins and that my dad is a deadringer for Harry Dean Stanton, she told me of a party she was having. Thursday, I attend, glowing with an elegance that would shame Grace Kelly, outlasting the fairweather fans, eventually having a conversation with Deborah Harry. Then another one. And then another one. So thrilled am I by this that I forget to make a svelte exit from the party until the good Alannah tells me to, and I quote, "F*** off". But nothing can hurt me now because I have told Debbie about this melting sensation and because she is going to dedicate "Always Touched By Your Presence Dear" to me. Isn't she? Anyway I am a fan and know no dignity and therefore no pain. Also I am approximately six years old and pretty limited in the self-awareness stakes.
GET up. Think about life a bit. Wonder if the line about melting registered. Watch Debbie make mincemeat of Wogan. Go to the gig. Melt some more. This week, have witnessed a stream of stout fellows, from True to Mico, from Mathur to Yates, wilt like daisies and tell me I was right and that that is the face of the century. Also I've been lectured by many young ladies on why D.H. is okay, on why they don't mind their men having Debbie pin-ups because Debbie is just so uncanny. Metaphysical theories of Debbiedom abound. This is all fine because a) I know it already, b) Debbie would just chuckled, c) all I have to do is nod a lot and accept drinks with style.
Tonight Debbie misses her cue in "Bike Boy" and Stein thumps her in the back. I try to get onstage to kill him but am distracted by a flow of blood from my right ear. Tonight's special celebrity guest reviewer is Throwing Muses' Tanya Donelly, who comments, "That face is larger than life. Debbie Harry and Patti Smith changed my existence. That face goes on forever.
My cab driver says, "Oh yeah, I remember her. Marvellous. These Sonia and that, y'know, these days, they haven't got it, they don't impress..."
"That's right!" I yell, bouncing, "they don't impress...
BEST gig I've seen since Friday. Bette Davis dies. Occurs to me that morning soon I'll wake up and it'll hit me that I'm not going to see "Cautious Lip" and "Bugeye" live that night. Shudder. Tonight someone throws a bunch of red roses at Deborah mid-song. She picks one up, bites its head off and spits it out. This is what we call: pop history.
So is this. I go to yuppie haunt Fred's for "a nightcap" with some people. "Was it destiny, I don't know yet..." In swans... you know who. I act dead cool (wave ferociously, shout) and Deborah Harry and friends join our table. And then, with murderous smile, she gives me the red rose she's carrying. This is all so unexpected that I manage to keep it together for a half-hour conversation, about museums and stuff. Deborah tells me she's been meaning to dedicate "Presence Dear" to me but the drummer keeps starting it the second "Brite Side" finishes. Yes a fine excuse, I say, but what's my name?
"Uuuh... Marty Wilde?"
By now I am the most hated person in the bar, in the West End, possibly in the world, and it is f***ing great. Revel revel. In fact someone steals my rose at one point but, when I catch them, they realise they have a simple choice between returning the rose and certain death, and return the rose. Fairweather fans, ttsha. I would've taken my chances on the death angle. Anyway, Deborah is going to India for Christmas with the good Alannah, who has now started referring to me as her "toy boy". But frankly six is a bit young, even to be a "toy boy".
Deborah gave me a red rose. The grail. Baptised. Sanctified. You can laugh. But not as much as me.
"THIS one's for Chris if you're here. I'd like to sing this one for you."
This happens. This really happens. I have witnesses. One witness is Robert from Birdland, who's driven down from Coventry for this and piles down the front and buzzes. "So many moments. And then more moments. I'm sorry, I'm speechless. I can't believe I've seen this, I feel privileged." Kim Wilde, daughter of Marty, grooves daintily. Tracy Tracy, it would appear, set off but couldn't get in. I can't say for certain because "for certain" is three syllables.
Backstage (I know, I know, fairy tales always have happy endings) Deborah tells me she will be back at the beginning of December. Chris Stein says, "Oh hey, is this the guy?" You bet. Tonight onstage Deborah said: "This is so great, there... there are no words."
The Queen is back. I hereby honourably abdicate, thus quitting at the very very very very very top. I mean I might have to keep writing stuff for a while to pay the rent, but that's reality, and right now reality lies broken, bruised and bleeding in a corner somewhere...
GET up. Feed the cats. Life will never be the same.