Blondie’s long-awaited return to Brighton glows ‘Atomic’ with star power

Posted On 30 Apr 2022 at 12:35 am

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

BLONDIE + JOHNNY MARR – BRIGHTON CENTRE 28.4.22

There’s no denying it: Blondie are just cool. Even as public opinion shifts on pioneers of classic punk like the Sex Pistols, and even as other alternative acts from their scene fade from view, it’s hard to find someone with a bad word to say about Blondie.

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Nick Linazasoro) (click pic to enlarge)

It isn’t surprising, then, that the innovators of the new wave were able to gather such a passionate audience at the Brighton Centre this week even after repeated rescheduling and cancellation incidents due to the pandemic. As Debbie Harry told a dedicated crowd: “It’s been a long f*cking time.”

Johnny Marr live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

For anyone like me in the “love The Smiths, hate Morrissey” camp, the first sight of Johnny Marr on this show’s posters must have been a real treat. Despite being better known for his songwriting capabilities than his stage presence, Marr seemed determined to present himself as a true rock star, as charismatic as any great frontman.

Johnny Marr live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

He pulled this off a lot better on his own songs, many of which were written during and directly reference the chaos and isolation of the pandemic. ‘Spirit, Power And Soul’ is a particularly uplifting example, combining Marr’s guitar prowess with a synth line that’s simultaneously nostalgic and kind of timeless. I’ve personally got a soft spot for the catchiness of ‘Easy Money’, which was far better live just because of how the snarling guitar lines reverberated throughout the Brighton Centre.

Johnny Marr live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

When it came to Marr’s performances of contributions to The Smiths, however, his swagger was swapped out for a more earnest performance. Hands flew into the air to cheer on Marr’s jangly guitar work during ‘This Charming Man’, but he seemed almost resentful to be playing it.

Johnny Marr live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

His passion’s evidently in his solo work, newer and fresher than repeats of his 1980s classics, but that doesn’t mean audiences didn’t chant along to every word of the immortal ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.

Johnny Marr live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Johnny Marr setlist:
(Intro tape): ‘No Time To Die’ (Billie Eilish)
‘Armatopia’
‘Panic’ (The Smiths)
‘Night And Day’
‘Spirit Power And Soul’
‘This Charming Man’ (The Smiths)
‘Getting Away With It’ (Electronic)
‘Walk Into The Sea’
‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ (The Smiths)
‘How Soon Is Now?’ (The Smiths)
‘Easy Money’
‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ (The Smiths)

johnnymarr.com

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

After Marr had firmly ignited the crowd’s rock nostalgia, our headliners took to the stage. Between the first two songs of their set, Blondie flaunted their genre-melding approach that has helped to make their legacy so enduring and universally beloved. There truly was something for everyone tonight.

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Their twisted journey through a wide range of genres reminded audiences that this really isn’t a group that are scared to experiment. Opening track ‘X Offender’ saw the band returning to their roots as provocateurs with a punk spirit, as summery synths underscore their darker lyrics.

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Their visuals for the show also reflected these defiant origins, with a cavalcade of comic art panels, piercing eyes, and photos of strangers in latex and drag being projected behind the band as they performed sensational rock tracks like ‘Mother’. Former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock fitted right in with this atmosphere, filling in for long-time bassist Chris Stein.

Glen Matlock with Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

The band’s instrumentalists absolutely shone, not once faltering in their talents during their hour and a half set. Veteran drummer Clem Burke earned himself particularly loud cheers for his showstopping fills, as well as his ability to drift between the many styles of Blondie with elegance.

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Having spent marketing material back in the day trying to remind audiences that Blondie is, in fact, a band, Harry made sure to highlight her bandmates and their legacies in the rock world. Guitarist Tommy Kessler’s riffs, leaning more towards the stadium rock side of things with their speed and overdrive, also went down a treat.

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

For her part, Harry captured the crowd’s attention with a seemingly effortless aura of confidence. There’s good reason Debbie Harry is such an icon; in the near-fifty years since Blondie formed, her vocal talents haven’t diminished one bit. Her sharp, powerful voice that lends itself just as beautifully to the tender high notes of ‘Maria’ as it does to the aggressive rock cries of ‘Call Me’ remains unstoppable. It’s pretty clear that she knows this, too. Throughout the show she could be seen with her hair blowing back dramatically, smirking underneath sunglasses as audiences hang off her every classic lyric.

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Blondie setlist:
(Intro tape): ‘For The Damaged Coda’ (Blonde Redhead)
‘X Offender’
‘Hanging On The Telephone’ (The Nerves cover)
‘Sunday Girl’
‘Picture This’
‘Mother’
‘Fade Away And Radiate’
‘The Tide Is High’ (The Paragons cover)
‘What I Heard’
‘Atomic’
‘(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear’
‘Shayla’
‘Union City Blue’
‘Long Time’
‘Rapture’
‘Maria’
‘Dreaming’
‘Heart Of Glass’ (inc snippets of ‘I Feel Love’ (Donna Summer) & ‘God Save The Queen’ (Sex Pistols)
(encore)
‘No Exit’ (inc snippets of ‘Toccata In D Minor’ (JS Bach) & ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ (Edvard Grieg))
‘Fragments’ (an Unkindness cover)
‘Call Me’ (Clem Burke drum solo)
‘One Way Or Another’

Blondie live at the Brighton Centre 28.4.22 (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

www.blondie.net

Tour flyer

Blondie ticket (pic Nick Linazasoro)

Tonight’s Blondie setlist was reused from two nights ago (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Johnny Marr setlist (pic Mike Burnell) (click pic to enlarge)

Performance times (pic Nick Linazasoro)

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