DEBBIE HARRY & CO... AKA 'BLONDIE' RETURN TO SCOTLAND TO PLAY MASSIVE SHOW AT GLASGOW'S SSE HYDRO
Got to the Hydro nice and early, quite keen to see the Blondie gig as they are an iconic act. Until this point, the only other time I’d seen Debbie Harry and Blondie live was at T in the Park and, it didn’t really do them and their long worn reputation any favours. Hopefully tonight, in their own gig it would be different.
I got in through gate B into the standing area in the centre a good distance from the stage. The crowd filtering in were a decent range of ages from teens through to OAPs. By the time the support act came on the hall was about half full.
Mustang were the support band and what a surprise they were. A three piece band playing rockabilly style tracks with some Shadows, 50s brit pop influences. Drums, Bass and guitar with a little bit of keyboard. The opening track was all instrumental and quirky and it introduced that fact they could play and, had some style. The singer explained that they were French and sang in french only, although the tracks were upbeat and interesting it did make it difficult for the Glasgow crowd to really get connected with what they were doing. The singer told the crowd that he was honoured to play in Glasgow as it was the home town of one of his favourite songwriters, Paul Buchanan and The Blue Nile, I’m fairly sure he showcased a knowledge of Glasgow's sons many Glaswegians don’t have. Although they were interesting and entertaining it was not a great choice of opener.
The usual change over of set and instruments and chanting ensued as the room filled to what seemed like a sell out crowd, all eager for Blondie.
On they came, 3 original members, Debbie Harry in a crazy Bee themed headdress obviously in reference to this being the Pollinator Tour, shades and cloak with the words ‘STOP FUCKING THE PLANET’ on the back. Chris Stein on Guitar, also with shades on and Clem Burke commanding proceedings from the raised drum kit. There's also another Bass player, Keyboard player and guitar player.
The screens above and behind Blondie oozed different forms of interference and static as they crashed headlong into One Way Or Another. Great opener!
Then into Hanging On The Telephone at the end of which Debbie Harry removed the awful bee thing from her head to reveal the still iconic pale skin and blondie hair which helped name the group. With her shades on and her slick stage movement I had to remind myself she is 72 years old. She does still have an air of cool sensuality that I feel kind of odd admitting.
Anyway, Clem gets up and strips down to reveal a CBGB’s T-shirt, a nod to where it all began in the early 70’s New Wave Punk scene and rattles out a powerful extended intro to Call Me. The crowd don’t need any encouragement as there are so many hits and this is what they came for even the keyboard solo played on a wearable keyboard isn’t too cheesy. This is followed by Ratpure which those around me are lip syncing along to word for word. They finished this song by going straight into Fight For Your Right by The Beastie Boys which seemed out of place but fun.
They keep the energy moving right along then Debbie asks the crowd for help, well the girls anyway, to sing Maria. I think this may have been needed as she seemed to rely on the crowd a bit more than just a sing along perhaps the high notes beyond her in her advancing years.
Atomic was a total crescendo, for me hearing this played in Scotland always makes me think of Trainspotting and it’s such a powerful track, it was done really well, the light show and screens really adding to the atmosphere.
They brought the set to a close with Heart Of Glass with a splash of I feel Love by Donna Summer.
The Glasgow crowd chant and roar for them to come back on to the stage…..out they come, like it wasn’t in the script all along.
4 Songs in the encore starting off with The Tide Is High by The Paragons which I think either the Lead Guitarist or Debbie got wrong and she was off her stride but they recovered like the old pros they are. In the next track Clem’s drum intro sound was so aggressive it was clipping and distorting but that got sorted too pretty sharpish. There might be an experienced sound engineer looking for work today!
Final couple of tracks were the haunting Union City Blues and finishing off with Dreaming. They left the stage to a recurring electronic loop and more static on the screens.
This was a fairly standard performance from rockers who have been in the business as long as Blondie, they have a lot of hits to carry the newer stuff but it is quite refreshing to know they are not just doing the greatest hits thing and are still writing and trying to remain relevant. A good performance with a slick light show and some great sound, although a strange choice of support.