Little Fish are the support act for tonight’s show, and I must commend their management company as they are landing tours with some big names, having previously been Hole’s support too.
If there is one word to sum up Little Fish, it is enthusiastic, with Juju leaping around the stage and passing her energy onto the crowd. Even though the hall is only part full, the audience are won over by Little Fish’s pop rock played by the duet; which consists typically of drums, guitar and vocals and, at the moment, with the addition of a keyboard player on a Hammondesque organ. Unfortunately, the guitar was very low in the mix and this left their music sounding thin and, with the organ, bordering on the realms of obvious.
When Little Fish sound at their best is on the darker and more sullen tracks, which would have been enhanced further by some distortion and volume from the guitar. All in all, Little Fish warm the crowd up in preparation for Blondie, which is the job they are required to do, and as noted earlier they certainly do it with enthusiasm.
During the break, I am uncertain as to what is to follow; I don’t want to expect great things in case I am disappointed, however, it is Blondie I am here to see, and they haven’t kept their legendary status intact for no reason. As the lights go down and the band enter the stage, it hits me, that this is Blondie! The opening track, D-day, is taken from their forthcoming album Panic for Girls and is a catchy number with the pace and grit you would expect from an early Blondie track.
Debbie Harry commands the stage wearing a platinum wig and glistening shades, and dancing like a robotic doll; reminding everyone in the venue that she’s the icon and she’s still got the voice. D-day leads into the classic Hanging on the Telephone, which instantly gets everyone moving, partly out of shock as I had this track penned in for the encore, but mainly because it sounds fantastic. The band have an additional guitarist and keyboard player to allow all the effects to permeate through each song, and they are stood in front of a graffiti backdrop with a lightshow that has been lifted from a naff 70’s disco; however, it serves the purpose in not detracting from the music.
The set is a mixture of tracks from the differing stages in the band’s career, cleverly positioned to ensure that they carry the audience on a high-energy ride. Maria demonstrates that Harry is still more the able to reach the notes in the upper register, whilst Burke still hits the living crap out of the drums with as much vigour as he did 30 odd years ago. Admittedly, the older songs stood out, possibly because of their place in my psyche but also their calibre of well-constructed tunes that don’t seem to have aged. Atomic and One Way Or Another were the highlights of the evening for different reasons; Atomic for extended guitar solo which gave it that extra element for a live performance whilst Harry demonstrated her sense of humour, and One Way for the pure grit and determination encapsulated in both the lyrics and vocal display.
After an hour long set, which has included the classics Tide Is High, Rapture and a slightly miss timed Call Me, Blondie leave the stage to overwhelming and well-deserved applause. Luckily, they return, after a brief intermission, with Picture This and Danger Danger, followed, surprisingly, by a Taio Cruz cover Break Your Heart. Despite staying fairly true to the original, Blondie bring that New York edginess to the track that makes it far more palatable than Cruz’s version.
The finale is unsurprisingly Heart of Glass, mirrorball and all. By this time, everyone is singing and dancing, willing the song to continue for as long as possible and Blondie proceed to give it their all right to the very last note. In a way, I am glad I approached this gig with an air of caution as Blondie shattered my expectations and they have fully justified their legendary status. Furthermore, it was great to see Blondie as a band not just Debbie Harry; yes, once upon a time, she was the most beautiful woman in the world but throughout the show she stood back from the limelight and let her bandmates have their deserved share of the adulation, emphasising it is the tight unit that creates the music.
Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – Steve Gerrard