BRIGHTON CENTRE 8th NOVEMBER 2017
Blondie are undeniably one of the most trailblazing and influential new wave/rock/pop/punk bands of our time. They have performed over 200 concerts in the UK alone and are certainly back on form tonight at the packed out Brighton Centre.
The current line-up of very accomplished musicians is made up of founding members Debbie Harry (on vocals who was previously a Playboy Bunny), Chris Stein (guitarist, who was Debbie’s long standing boyfriend), and Clem Burke (drummer, who tonight performed within a transparent perspex screen), along with bass player Leigh Foxx, guitarist Tommy Kessler and Matt Katz-Bohen on keyboards.
Their recent album ‘Pollinator’ was released in May and fans old and new were making a bee-line to the record shops (and their computers) in order to purchase it and as a result, it deservedly climbed as high as No.4 in the official album charts. This was their highest chart position in over 18 years. ‘Pollinator’ (their eleventh album) has been proving to be a great success for the band and so the guys are out on tour promoting it. The stand out tracks for me on the eleven song ‘Pollinator’ album are ‘Already Naked’ (alas not played tonight) and ‘Fragments’.
The band have hot-footed it from Nottingham last night and will have a days rest before performing in Wales at the cavernous Motorpoint Arena on Friday. They will also be visiting Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London on this tour.
Although I was a really massive Blondie fan during the second half of the 1970’s when I purchased and played to death their first four albums ‘Blondie’ (fave track ‘In The Sun’), ‘Plastic Letters’ (fave track ‘Denis’), ‘Parallel Lines’ (fave track ‘Picture This’) and ‘Eat To The Beat’ (fave track ‘Shayla’), somehow by the time their tamer fifth album ‘Autoamerican’ came along with their changed sound, I became less interested. I don’t think for one moment that Blondie would be the slightest worried about me not purchasing later albums as they have already sold well over 42 million of them and have been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. However tonight three of our gang, including us, did in fact purchase the reasonably priced £8 new ‘Pollinator’ CD as Blondie had performed six songs from it tonight.
I do however, have fond memories of leaving school and starting college at the time the Blondie single ‘Denis’ came out. Alas this was not played tonight either. I was then unaware that it was a cover version of a 1963 song called ‘Denise’. I can fondly remember (like a million other 16 year old boys!) Debbie on Top Of The Pops and the Smash Hits photos!
Surprisingly, I haven’t actually seen Blondie live before. The nearest I ever got was seeing Clem Burke on drums for The Eurythmics Brighton The Top Rank gig on 6th March 1983, so tonight was going to be a real treat!
The support act tonight were Mustang who were ‘trois garçons et Français’ based in Paris who and are made up of Jean Felzine (chant, guitare, orgue/synthétiseur), Johan Gentile (basse, guitare, choeurs) and Rémi Faure (batterie, machines, choeurs). As you might surmise, they sang in French and for quite a number of the crowd, they were a good warm up act. They partly looked like rockabilly boys, but didn’t really sound like it.
Blondie’s set tonight was around 90 minutes long, but with 11 albums of work to choose from, in my mind, they could have possibly performed for a tad longer to be honest and for me, there were so many of my fave tracks missing too!
But hey, I am finally seeing Blondie live, what is there to complain about? I mean, tonight, Debbie’s voice sounds just as good as it ever did and Clem’s drumming is still awesome. The stage set with three background screens are terrific and liven up the set. The relatively mature audience are well up for it, clapping, dancing and shaking their thang! Debbie is praising our off-shore Rampion Wind Farm as she clearly is into saving the planet these days and everyone’s having a ball.
There were to be thirteen singles played tonight from their seventeen song set, which included highlight tracks ‘Hanging On The Telephone’, ‘Atomic’ and ‘Heart Of Glass’ with it’s nod to Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ in the middle. Although I have to say that the slightly slower version of ‘Picture This’ was a little surprising. But having said that my wife enjoyed every track, so that was important.
Tonight’s 17 song setlist reads:
‘One Way Or Another’ (1979 single taken from UK No.1 ‘Parrallel Lines’ 1978 album)
‘Hanging On The Telephone’ (1978 No.5 UK single taken from UK No.1 ‘Parrallel Lines’ 1978 album and a cover of the 1976 opening track of the only EP by Los Angeles based trio The Nerves)
‘Fun’ (2017 single from the new 2017 ‘Pollinator’ album)
‘Call Me’ (1980 UK No.1 single co-written by Giorgio Moroder from ‘American Gigolo’ film)
‘Gravity’ (written by Charli XCX and French record producer Dimitri Tikovoï from the new 2017 ‘Pollinator’ album)
‘Rainy Day Women ♯12 & 35′ (a cover of the 1966 controversial song by Bob Dylan which reached No.7 in the UK singles chart and a longer version was the opening track from his ‘Blonde On Blonde’ No’3 UK album)
‘Fragments’ (from the new 2017 ‘Pollinator’ album which is a cover of the 2010 An Unkindness song)
‘Maria’ (1999 UK No.1 single taken from 1999 UK No.3 Blondie ‘No Exit’ comback album)
‘Picture This’ (UK No.12 single taken from UK No.1 ‘Parrallel Lines’ 1978 album)
‘Too Much’ (2017 single from the new 2017 ‘Pollinator’ album)
‘Long Time’ (2017 single from the new 2017 Pollinator album)
‘Atomic’ (1979 UK No.1 single taken from 1979 UK No.1 ‘Eat To The Beat’ album)
‘Heart Of Glass’ (UK No.1 single and second biggest single of 1979, taken from UK No.1 ‘Parrallel Lines’ 1978 album
‘My Monster’ (Johnny Marr written track from the new 2017 ‘Pollinator’ album)
‘Union City Blue’ (1979 UK No.2 single taken from 1979 UK No.1 ‘Eat To The Beat’ album)
‘Dreaming’ (1979 UK No.13 single taken from 1979 UK No.1 ‘Eat To The Beat’ album)
I do hope that Blondie return to Brighton really soon, but in the meantime here are ten interesting facts to whet your appetite for more Blondie:
Debbie Harry’s real name is Angela Tremble and she was adopted at 3 months old.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein are no longer together and never did get married.
Debbie has currently 62 television and film roles to her credit.
The Blondie single ‘Rapture’ was the very first US No.1 song to feature rap vocals.
Blondie were the support act on the legendary Iggy Pop & David Bowie tour in 1977.
In the mid 1980’s Chris Stein had a rare blistering autoimmune disease called Pemphigus that affected his skin and mucous membranes.
In 2014 Harry confirmed rumours that she has had sexual relationships with women and that she is bisexual.
Blondie’s original bass player Gary Valentine is now a full-time writer and book publisher.
Blondie headlined at the Eden Project in Cornwall on 23rd June this year, where they launched their ‘BEE Connected’ campaign, using ‘Pollinator’ to raise awareness of the decline of the bee population.
They are one of only two American acts to have singles at the top of the UK charts in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s, the other being Michael Jackson.