Music Reviews

LIVE: Blondie at Theatre Royal Concert Hall

Blondie is undoubtedly one of the most influential rock bands of the last century. Their first album was released all the way back in 1976, when lead singer Debbie Harry was only twenty two years old. Time has no effect on the band it seems, with Debbie Harry at the age of seventy-two, alongside some original band members,  Chris Stein, Clem Burke and Leigh Foxx (plus newbies Matt Katz-Bohen and Tommy Kessler) kick off their 2017 UK tour, which took off in Nottingham’s very own Theatre Royal on the 7th of November.

“Clothing choices and dancing giving a very 1980’s feel”

‘Mustang’, a young French band who were founded only ten years ago, were Blondie’s support act. The band consisted of two guitarists and one drummer, all around the age of thirty. They played a variety of both smooth and upbeat songs, with their clothing choices and dancing giving a very 1980’s feel. However, much to the audience’s dismay, the band only sang their songs in French. For Blondie’s huge reputation, I think fans were a bit disappointed with this choice of support act.

Blondie’s appearance on the stage, however, soon changed the mood in the audience. I couldn’t see a single person who was not screaming, smiling and in some cases, crying, when Debbie Harry took her microphone at centre stage. She started the show with ‘One Way Or Another’, a track from her first album, something which was a shock in the way Debbie Harry’s voice has failed to age. She looked incredible also, with her signature cheekbones and bright blonde hair still being present. She coupled a bee headband with a white jacket that had bees on the front and ‘stop fucking the planet’ on the back, paying tribute to her most recent album ‘Pollinator’.

This new album is a stand against bee extinction and general human-induced environmental issues. It was interesting and inspiring to see a woman that is trying to remain popular forty years on, focus on wider social issues, instead of the way she looks.

Visually, the concert was very interesting. Three digital screens showed a variety of moving images throughout, ideas which Debbie Harry herself had an involvement in choosing. This technique was simple yet effective, and did not distract from Harry in the way a spotlight was shining on her. What I loved more than this, however, is the way the spotlight was shared amongst all of the band, with each member having their time to shine.

“Drummer Clem Burke almost stole the show”

Debbie Harry stood aside and let each of her band members show their stuff, which I really respected considering audience want for her in particular. Drummer Clem Burke (in my controversial opinion), almost stole the show from Debbie Harry herself, age also not having the slightest effect on his musical ability. He seemed to end almost every song with an incredible solo that’s bass had the room almost vibrating.

Blondie, alongside playing some originals like ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Picture This’ and ‘Atomic’, sang from their 2017 album ‘Pollinator’ for almost half of the show. I feel this was slightly upsetting for the audience, as they neglected to play their 1979 number one, ‘Sunday Girl’. Further, it is a common feeling that older artists should stick to what they know and what they are famous for.

“Debbie Harry remains the urban, fearless spirit and down-to-earth girl she has always been”

Their new album features contributions from some of the most popular modern pop music artists, like Sia and Charli XCX. ‘Gravity’, a song written by Charli XCX for Blondie, was executed very well, with the band showing their potential to perform both rock and pop songs. It seems Debbie Harry still has the vocal capacity to hit the high and low sounds she always could, still with a gritty edge to her voice. However, it was expected that these new songs did not have the lyrical genius, and hence, the power to lift the mood in the way her originals did.

Although the world has transformed since Blondie first began about forty years ago, Debbie Harry remains the urban, fearless spirit and down-to-earth girl she has always been. If I were to describe the concert in one word it would have to be ‘refreshing’, not only because the older audience meant there was only a handful of people filming it, but because of her outfit choice, simple background effects and the band’s respect for each other, with talent shining through every single member, young or old.

8/10 – only because of the support act and because they didn’t play Sunday Girl

Charlotte Hegley

Live images courtesy of Charlie Hegley

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