Blondie – Brighton Centre – 28 April 2022
Blondie, Against The Odds, were back in Brighton. The crowd were “Toe to toe / Dancing very close”. An unforgettable gig. A night of Rapture.
Blondie is an American rock band co-founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the American new wave scene of the mid-1970s in New York. Their first two albums contained strong elements of these genres, and although highly successful in the United Kingdom and Australia, Blondie was regarded as an underground band in the United States until the release of Parallel Lines in 1978. Over the next five years, the band achieved several hit singles. The group toured and performed throughout the world during the following years, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Blondie has sold around 40 million records worldwide and as seen tonight, are still very much alive and kicking.
The wonderful Debbie Harry and her recently adjusted line up making up the band Blondie are back in the UK. They have been filling arena shows on the tour, and so it was a delight to see them in Brighton at the Brighton Centre. We were about to receive an all out fizzing with energy show, a plethora of hits served up live, some fabulous guitar play, some top drumming, and a constantly changing back drop of pop art images. I was really excited to be here, never caught Blondie before. My expectation levels were set really high. By the end of the gig Blondie had truly exceeded them.
Blondie: The Band
Blondie band line up for tonight: Debbie Harry — lead vocals / Clem Burke — drums / Glen Matlock — bass / Matt Katz-Bohen — keys, vocals / Tommy Kessler — guitar, vocals / Andee Blacksugar — guitar, vocals
Chris Stein, as Debbie explained during the set, was not able to tour as he wasn’t very well. She assured us he was OK, she sent us his love and that he was hoping to be back next time. Debbie introduced Glen Matlock as deputy bass player. Glen recognised immediately by the crowd and received a wonderful display of appreciation from the crowd.
The band took to the stage after a brief musical intro, the stage lights were hit and the back screen stuttered into life. All met with a huge cheer. Debbie Harry walked onto her stage dressed in leggings, a leather jacket and a pair of shades. She looked fabulous as she gave us a wave and the band launched into an early hit, X Offender. Debbie’s voice was perfect. Her instantly recognisable sound and tones filled the Brighton Centre from the get go.
Hanging On The Telephone was next, together with with the jerky trademark movements from Debbie, and that led quickly, after an intro, into Sunday Girl. OK, three songs in and I was captivated. The songs, the sounds and the associated memories to those songs was spellbinding.
On the drums…
It was great to see this latest incarnation of Blondie, but it was especially satisfying at last to witness the prowess of top drummer Clem Burke live and in action! We have shared a few tweets in the past, and I covered Bootleg Blondie for whom he has been on the kit, and I hope to see him in the UK a bit later this year. He is stunning to watch as he powers it up in his plexi-glass fronted sound booth. A masterclass of percussion on display tonight. Awesome display.
Mother, Fade Away, and The Tide Is High were up next. Mother maybe a lesser known track from the album Panic of Girls. This song has been rarely performed live recently, but it has been added back into the set list for Blondie’s 2022 Against the Odds UK Tour. It sounded great. What I Heard was next, again from the album Panic Of Girls. Then the fuse was lit as the guitars sparked up with the intro to Atomic.
The set tonight was made up by drawing material from Blondies extensive and impressive entire back catalogue, including two selections from their most recent album, Pollinator, Long Time and Fragments/Tonight.
Click on each photo to enlarge
Debbie slid out of her leather jacket, and yes she can still rock the look wearing what seemed to be a bin liner. Brilliant. The band would, from time to time, do some extended slots with guitar breaks, or drum solos giving Debbie Harry a chance to catch her breath as she moved to the back of the stage. She was delivering a totally on point energised performance.
Next up was a marvellous segue made up of three songs, Always Touched By Your Presence, the gorgeous Shayla and Union City Blue. What Blondie was achieving tonight was terrific. The Brighton Centre was full of people dancing and singing together. This concert had been postponed and rescheduled a couple of times and this show had sold out ages ago. The crowd were ready for this release after the last couple of year and it was a privilege to share this night with Blondie and their crowd.
Debbie Harry was magnificent tonight. Long Time was up and then we had an extended version of a performance of the iconic Rapture. Back in the day, 1980, this was considered a brave release as it blended those “new wave” melodies with a touch of hip hop and rap. “Toe to toe / Dancing very close”, let me assure you… We were. Up next, and as I love this song, is one of the many set highlights tonight, after the guitar intro was a truly rousing “comeback” performance of the single Maria, which was released originally in 1999! Where have those years gone? It was lively and the Brighton Choir joined in, an almost deafening cacophony of sounds. It raised the hairs on the back of my neck, and a real joy to be able to join in with the chorus. I apologise now for anyone close enough and able to hear my singing!
Dreaming was served up next and then the immediately recognised by the 2000 strong crowd, Heart Of Glass. Over to Clem Burke as he controlled the beat and indeed timing for this one. It melted that famous disco up beat tempo into a musical frenzy with the band, and Glen shook the foundations with his bass. This combined firepower inspired everyone present, and I do mean everyone, to sing along while breaking out into their best disco dance routines.
Sadly time had flown by as the guys left the stage to a roof shaking cheer and shouts for more! The set was over! Well almost.
The band returned to the stage to a huge cheer with a four exciting tunes and songs lined up. First up No Exit and then Fragments. The band exploded as the opening chords powered out with the theme to the 1980 film American Gigolo Call Me, produced and composed by Giorgio Moroder, and this was another of the many set highlights I mentioned earlier. Stunning track and the band hammered that one well and truly home.
The last song of the evening was a bit of a give away with the recognised guitar riff for One Way Or Another. And that was it. Blondie took a well deserved bow and left the stage.
Considering Blondies back catalogue contains many of the greatest pop singles ever, then your set is going to work 100%. Debbie Harry was magnificent and she has a heck of a good band behind her. She looked resplendent as she MC’d the crowd and the band on a journey. A journey through time not only for the band but also for the huge crowd in attendance. Could this line up deliver? Oh yes, it was an immaculate performance from everyone on the stage.
Welcome back to Brighton Blondie, hope you can stop by again soon. We are always touched by your presence.
Keep in touch with Blondie on the web here.
Thank you to Blondie
Thank you to Clem Burke
Sending warm wishes to Chris Stein – hope you are on the mend.
Thank you to Suzannah – The Outside Organisation. I appreciate everything you did to make this happen.
Thanks to the magnificent staff at The Brighton Centre.
Thanks to Andrew James for allowing us to use his stunning crowd photo.
Words and Pictures: Ian Bourn
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