Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blondie at the Beacon Theatre

Deborah Harry
Born in Miami, Florida, and raised in Hawthorne, New Jersey, Deborah Harry moved to New York City in the late 1960s, where she worked as a secretary, waitress, and Playboy bunny. She joined her first band, the Wind in the Willows, in 1968, and then the Stilettos in 1973, where she would meet future boyfriend Chris Stein. Harry and Stein formed Angel & the Snakes, quickly renamed as Blondie, in 1974. The name derived from comments made by truck drivers who catcalled "Hey, Blondie" to Harry as they drove past. Blondie was among the first bands to play the New York punk circuit, subsequently selling 40 million records worldwide. The band split in 1982, and Harry pursued a solo recording and acting career while also caring for Stein, who was diagnosed with pemphigus, a rare autoimmune disease of the skin. The band re-formed in 1997, and presently consists of vocalist Harry, guitarists Stein and Tommy Kessler, keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen, bassist Leigh Foxx, and original drummer Clem Burke. Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. The band's 11th and most recent studio album, Pollinator, was released on May 5, 2017.

Blondie started as a punk band, and in its early years ventured into new wave, pop, disco, reggae, and early rap music, but live the songs were unified by a ragged garage touch. Upon reassembling in the 1990s, Blondie evolved into a professional rock sound, which regrettably lacked the rawness of the original band and made the band sound rather ordinary. At the Beacon Theatre tonight, Blondie turned virtually all of its catalog songs into hard-driving power rock songs, propelled largely by the inexhaustible Burke's outstanding percussive energy. Harry arrived on stage wearing a bee mask and black cape; the 72-year-old vocalist looked and sounded strong, even though the openers, "One Way or Another" and "Call Me," showed that limitations were sneaking into vocal range. This weakness was recompensed by sheer dynamic energy from her and the musicians. The band rocked so vibrantly that "Heart of Glass" was hardly the disco-infused track it was in its first lifetime. The surprises included covers of Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and an Unkindness' "Fragments," and the addition of a youth brass band on the encore of "The Tide Is High." This was the best Blondie has sounded in several years.

Visit Blondie at www.blondie.net.

Setlist:
  1. One Way or Another
  2. Hanging on the Telephone (The Nerves cover)
  3. Fun
  4. Call Me
  5. My Monster
  6. Rapture
  7. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob Dylan cover)
  8. Fragments (an Unkindness cover)
  9. Too Much
  10. Long Time
  11. Atomic
  12. Heart of Glass
Encore:
  1. Dreaming
  2. The Tide Is High (The Paragons cover)