By John Curley
Blondie returned to their New York City home for a show on Tuesday night, August 31st at the Nokia Theatre Times Square and, as always, delivered a set that left the hometown crowd very happy. Mixing songs from their upcoming Panic Of Girls album with selections from their back catalog and a few covers, Blondie showed that they are still a very formidable live act.
These days, Blondie consist of original members Deborah Harry on lead vocals, Chris Stein on guitar, and Clem Burke on drums as well as Leigh Foxx on bass, Matt Katz-Bohen on keyboards, and Tommy Kessler on guitar. The current band works very well together live, though Kessler’s guitar pyrotechnics were a bit off-putting. While Kessler is an excellent musician, he seems to be something of a poseur. I can’t imagine that his act would’ve gone down well during the band’s CBGB days in the 1970s. But that’s just a minor quibble. It is always a pleasure and a privilege to see the lovely Deborah Harry do her thing on the concert stage. She looked and sounded great. And she had the crowd in the palm of her hand from the first note of the opening song “D-Day.” As the telephone sounds that introduce “Hanging On The Telephone” played over the speakers, Harry said to the crowd, “Is this New York City? This is Blondie calling.” The huge roar that Harry’s query received in response seemed to both surprise and please the singer. And Clem Burke is still one of the best drummers in rock. His flashy playing style and onstage exuberance add a great deal to Blondie’s live show.
Performing before a large backdrop that featured black-and-white lines and brought to mind the cover of their seminal Parallel Lines album, Blondie gave the New York City crowd plenty of hits, including “Hanging On The Telephone,” “Maria,” “Atomic,” “The Tide Is High,” “Rapture,” “Call Me,” “One Way Or Another,” and “Heart Of Glass.” And since the show was in Blondie’s New York City home, they included two covers in their encore by their NYC punk-era compatriots—“The Ramones’ “Pet Sematary” and “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” by Johnny Thunders. “Pet Sematary,” in particular, went over really well with the crowd.
Blondie played a 95-minute show that featured a 13-song main set and seven-song encore. They were superb and are well worth seeing in concert.
Opening the show were Gorevette, a four piece from Detroit. Gorevette are made up of Nikki Corvette on vocals, Amy Gore on guitar, Lianna Castillo on bass, and Al King on drums. Their 30-minute set included spirited covers of The Buzzcocks’ “What Do I Get” and “Good Girls Don’t” by The Knack. Amy Gore’s guitar work was quite impressive and received a nice reaction from the crowd. Gore could probably teach Blondie’s Tommy Kessler a thing or two about how to play lead guitar onstage without looking like a prat.
Blondie’s set at the Nokia Theatre show was as follows:
Hanging On The Telephone
Will Anything Happen?
The Hardest Part
Love Doesn’t Frighten Me
What I Heard
The Tide Is High
One Way Or Another
See No Evil
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory
Break Your Heart
Heart Of Glass
Some high-quality amateur videos from the concert have turned up on YouTube. To watch them, click in the appropriate places below:
“One Way Or Another”: