fri 22/11/2019

Blondie, Usher Hall, Edinburgh | reviews, news & interviews

Blondie, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Blondie, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

More than a stroll down memory lane from an energetic Debbie Harry and company

Chris Stein, Debbie Harry and Clem Burke having a Blondie moment

Blondie are one of a handful of bands capable of producing a set list which renders rational critical argument all but obsolete. If they play the hits and they play them straight and true, there’s not really much to complain about. Last night in Edinburgh the six-piece line-up (half original members, half relative newbies) played (most of) the hits, and well, but let’s break it down to specifics.

Five things you want to see at a Blondie concert

1. Debbie Harry. A vision in peach with voice and sass intact, she remains a tough-but-tender front woman par excellence with charisma to burn. 2. Drummer Clem Burke, wearing a "New York City" T-shirt behind a wall of Perspex, throwing his sticks in the air every five minutes - and sometimes catching them. 3. Keyboard player Matt Katz-Bohen taking the spotlight for a ludicrously OTT solo on a white keytar during a shimmering “Heart of Glass”. 4. The sheer unhip, couldn’t-give-a-cool joy of a crowd covering all demographic bases. 5. See number one. She is still quite something.

It was great, but it could have been sensational

Three things you don’t want to see at a Blondie concert

1. Fish-out-of-water guitarist Tommy Kessler, all flash and muscle, playing a squealing, sub-metal solo behind his head at the end of “Atomic”. 2. Fish-out-of-water guitarist Tommy Kessler playing squealing, sub-metal guitar solos on quite a few other songs that, frankly, required no squeal whatsoever. 3. Chris Stein taking off his shades. Thankfully, he didn't.

Five things you want to hear at a Blondie concert

1. Four bona fide classics in the opening six songs, each played with frill-free vigour: “One Way or Another”, “Hanging on the Telephone”, “Union City Blue” and a sprawling, skanking “The Tide is High”. 2. “Maria”. In 1999 it was the cuckoo-in-the-nest comeback song. Now it’s an old favourite and a set highlight. 3. The 68-year-old Debbie Harry saying “motherfucker”. 4. Twenty-five hundred people singing "Woo-ooh woah-oh". 5. "Dreaming". The final song, and perfect.

Four things you don’t want to hear at a Blondie concert

1. A karaoke cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” when they haven’t played “Sunday Girl”, "Picture This" or “Rapture”. 2. Taped backing vocals on performances of tracks from the forthcoming album Ghosts of Download. Tut tut. 3. The phrase “this is a new song” uttered more than six times. They weren’t at all bad (in fact new single “A Rose by Any Name” [see video below] is a fine piece of chilly electronic pop) but bunched together they stalled the momentum in the second half of the show. And playing a new track as the first song of an encore is a fundamental no-no. 4. A drum solo. Blondie are a pop band. Bad form.

Verdict: it was great, but it could have been sensational. Taxi for Mr Kessler, I reckon.

Listen to the new Blondie single "A Rose by Any Name" featuring Beth Ditto

A vision in peach with voice and sass intact, Harry remains a tough-but-tender front woman par excellence with charisma to burn

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

Can you tell me the name of the support or this gig I really enjoyed them but I never caught their name?

Lexy and the Kill, I loved them....

They're a great new band.

Good overall concert, but could have played more off the old classics such as Sunday girl, pretty baby, touched by your presence dear just to name a few.

Lexy and the Kill

I think Graeme is battling with feelings of lust for Tommy Kessler. He protests too much!

Tommy is an amazing guitarist and a great addition to the band, his solo in 'Atomic' is fantastic!

This guy has not got a clue.

Pretty rude comments about Tommy Kessler! The last time I saw Blondie live he was in the band, and I thought he was great.

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