October 5, 2011
Better than ... expected. Far better than we could have imagined, actually.
When new wave erupted on the back end of punk, there was Blondie, with great hooks, crisp beats and a sultry peroxide beauty who became one of the most famous and innovative female stars of the era. Fronted by Deborah Harry, a former Playboy Bunny, and anchored by guitarist and then-boyfriend Chris Stein, Blondie became the most commercially successful of the survivors of the New York punk scene.
The band reformed in 1997 after a fifteen-year hiatus, and last night, the latest incarnation of the groups -- featuring original members Harry, Stein, drummer Clem Burke and new guitarist Tommy Kessler and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen -- played Club Nokia with rock trio Nico Vega.Last month, Blondie released Panic of Girls, the band's ninth studio album and the first in eight years, self-released in America via Amazon due to complications with record labels.
On Panic of Girls, Blondie's exploration of the more melodic side of punk continues, Harry's voice is as sharply sculpted as ever, and elements of pop, disco, and reggae are infused throughout.Last night, the new material blended well with the old. Harry came on stage wearing diamond-rimmed sunglasses, a cropped double-breasted coat, and a densely layered tulle skirt, which she later ripped off to reveal a skin-tight black tank dress. At 66, she's still quite beautiful; there's something about her that's completely timeless, and she looked like a porcelain doll.
After dedicating the show to Steve Jobs, who passed away yesterday, Blondie opened with "Union City Blue," "Dreaming," and "Atomic," three hits from their fourth album Eat to the Beat, released in 1979. By the time the band hit "Atomic," they'd warmed up a bit, and Harry stepped back into the shadows to allow her band mates some time in the spotlight. Newcomer Tommy Kessler -- who joined the group in April 2010, replacing guitarist Paul Carbonara -- proved to be a great showman as well as a skilled guitar player. He showed off his lightning-fast finger-picking skills and ended the song by playing his guitar backwards behind his head.