The West Australian TODAY - 19th Aug 2003
The West Australian TODAY - 19th August 2003 - Page 7
Review: Simon Collins
NEW YORK'S coolest ever band strolled on-stage to the strains of Frank Sinatra's Witchcraft, Ol' Blue Eyes making way for Blondie.
The rapturous audience had waited more than 20 years to see the flaxen-haired icon in the flesh, and Debbie Harry - wearing a flouncy black Spanish-style dress - delivered an energetic performance that belied her age.
The 58-year-old pop star was backed by a slick outfit that featured two original members, drummer Clem Burke and playful keyboardist Jimmy Destri. The fourth original member, guitarist Chris Stein, had remained in the US after his wife gave birth.
Harry, Burke and Destri were joined by musicians who might not have been at infamous New York bar CBGB's when the punk movement was gaining momentum, but they certainly had the look, the moves and the music down pat. Yes, guitarists Paul Carbonara and Jimi Bones, bassist Leigh Foxx (plus second keyboardist Kevin Topping), added a mean guitar rumble to the essentially pop Blondie sound.
In particular, Bones - dressed in tight brown leather pants and bandanna - resembled a Mini-Me version of Keith Richards.
Opening salvo Diamond Bridge, from their coming studio album The Curse of Blondie, gave way to classic tunes, like Dreaming, Call Me and the pre-techno rave-up of Atomic.
These tracks highlighted Burke's superb drumming - a combination of power, intricacy and flair. Like Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, Burke really drives the Blondie songs.
Beefed up versions of Hanging On The Telephone, Sunday Girl, The Tide is High and One Way or Another kept the Debbie devotees on their feet, while the new songs were greeted almost as warmly as the favourites from the late 70s.
New single Good Boys, with its classic Blondie melodies and an infectious bridge, was a welcome addition to the catalogue.
Meanwhile, Golden Rod, End to End and Maria (the latter off 1999's comeback album, No Exit) proved that the resurgence of the New Wave legends is washing up some fine music.
But the undeniable highlight of the evening came when Blondie unleashed Rapture - their 1980 rap/rock hybrid inspired by New York's burgeoning hip-hop scene.
The slinky opening verses segued into Harry's rap, which was groundbreaking when Stein and the singer penned the No. 1 single. On Sunday night, the band backed the final rap verse with sounds that echoed the Sugarhill Gang's 1979 hit Rapper's Delight.
The only stutter occurred when Harry missed her cue on encore opener Rip Her To Shreds, a caustic tale from New York's mean streets. The show predictably finished with Heart of Glass, the disco/New Wave mega-smash that awakened many punk acts to their commercial potential.
This was no retro-fest. Blondie's songs have a timeless quality, they hark back to the dawn of pop music, while employing beats and guitar lines that are very modern.
Footage of 1999 comeback concerts suggested Harry wasn't at peak form, but on Sunday night her vocals were spot-on and the band super confident as they delivered a Blondie blinder.