Saturday, October 5, 2013
Debbie Harry and Blondie Rule Roseland
Their set first brought the spectacle of Brooklyn-based multi-horn brass band, One Cheer, filling the stage physically and aurally before the pop-punk band entered as the brass faded and filed off.
Debbie Harry pranced onstage like the enduring diva she is, in a chic, black graduation gown-styled frock and dunce cap (No Principals), opening with the classic "One Way or Another" from Blondie's breakthrough album, Parallel Lines. Ms Harry's hair was a retro 'do of long blonde tresses. And our girl really knows how to use her head when it comes to working a mini fall! Behind the band was a plethora of non-stop video images as Ms Harry stepped lithely and lively, swirling across the stage. This is a vast improvement, performance-wise, from her heyday (when she was often, perhaps, a bit too stoned to grace us by breaking a move and was physically stiff, though who wasn't at the time).
What followed was a clever and canny set of hits and newer tunes. "Hangin' on the Telephone," "Union City Blues," "Atomic" and "Heart of Glass" were stirred in with the recent single, "A Rose Is Still a Rose" and catchy, energetic current numbers like "Take Me in the Night." (Ripe for remixes!)
Blondie returned for a five-song encore, going back to their first album, Blondie, and the second, Plastic Letters with songs like "X Offender." LGBT fans will qvell learning Miss H even brought legendary drag diva Miss Guy, onstage for a duet before wrapping up with "Call Me," "Dreaming" (a favorite of mine, from the Eat to the Beat album) and bringing the horns back for a "Tide Is High" blow-out. Viva Blondie!
Chris Stein and the band (enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) displayed an outstanding mastery, showing vast controlled and expert musicianship since Blondie's garage band days. Some things get better with age and Blondie is one of them.
Roseland's sound system led my friends, people around us and I to believe the sound check may not have been sufficient pre-concert as it took a few songs into the set for proper adjustments to the mix to occur.
The night's set started off powerfully with no patter from the diva until after her third number when she doffed her gown (the cap was removed after song numero uno), revealing a fit figure in a low-cut little black dress. Very binky!
The New Wave idol's voice is a treasure. Like, say, Cher or Ronnie Spector, Debbie is a shining example of the burnishing individualism of pop female voices from earlier eras before a bland conformity and autotuning (not to mention twirking) were deemed necessary to manufacture a hit.
It was a trans-generational audience with a fair share of aging CBGB/ The Mudd Club people. Nobody seemed disappointed.
Grooviest moment you may ask? Definitely "Rapture" followed by a ebullient cover of Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." That rap classic might be my mantra these days.