SSE Hydro, 14/11
It’s not often that a band that started in the 70s, broke up, then reformed fifteen years later is still widely known and appreciated in 2017. For Blondie, however, this complicated history seems to have had little impact on their popularity, as evidenced by the huge turnout at the Hydro. Families made up of middle-aged folks and teenagers surround me, as well as individuals dressed as though no time has passed since they must have first heard Debbie Harry’s voice on the radio – cowboy hats, goth boots and tartan trousers are seen amongst the many balding heads, as well as denim jackets, the odd skinny jeans and Adidas shoes. Waiting for the band, the laidback feel and extra personal space that comes with an older audience is a breath of fresh air.
Blondie come onto the stage and the crowd quickly reveals their previously concealed excitement as they start to play ‘One way or Another’. Debbie Harry walks on with a black and yellow striped headpiece meant to look like a bee’s head and strikes a pose with her back facing the audience, revealing a cape with the message “Stop Fucking the Planet”; at the end of the first song, she starts talking to fans and cracks some excellent lines such as “It’s for the bees, baby, it’s for the bees” and “You wanna buzz with me baby?”. The rest of the set is excellent, with a setlist full of the band’s greatest hits as well as tracks from their latest album Pollinator.
The performance is also enriched by a few covers, including an infusion of the Beastie Boys’ ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right To Party’ with ‘Rapture’ and an Unkindness’ ‘Fragments’, which in particular shows off Debbie Harry’s ever-powerful voice. Swiftly after, the crowd erupts as the first notes of ‘Maria’ are heard, which quickly proves to be the most popular song of the night; accordingly, it is the first song during which Debbie Harry removes her sunglasses. Other highlights include a sped-up version of ‘Atomic’ and an unexpected keytar solo during an extended ‘Heart of Glass’.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Blondie or an occasional listener, their live performance is a delight. Despite the age of the original members, the band clearly still enjoys putting on a show and pour their hearts into it, demonstrated by the many guitar and drum solos and jokes shared with the audience. Their music is also brought to life and modernised with the help of video accompaniments filled with pole dancing, animation and racy characters. It’s a fantastic way to spend the night with those who introduced Blondie to you in the first place and a great opportunity to see a band who may not be touring for that much longer. Indeed, the tide of energy was high, and for tonight, Blondie was my number one.
[Yasmina Todd – @yasytodd]