An old review that never found a home. From Shepherd Bush Empire – June 30th 2014
Impossibly fresh from a subdued set at Glastonbury, presumably due to not headlining, Blondie are met by a rapturous crowd in W9. Replete in the black and white dress of Parallel Lines, Debbie Harry looks more comfortable back in the Smoke. Despite her solo forays, and talk of retirement, they always were firmly a band. Already reinvigorated by Tommy Kessler’s lead guitar, she and Chris Stein have reunited with the phenomenal drumming of Clem Burke, while keyboardist Katz-Bohen, maintains their new wave roots.
Sharper than a penknife, they bat sixes from the off with One way or another; the crowd threaten to be louder than the band, volume being the only flaw of tonight’s show . Rave, from current album Ghosts of Download ducks and dives like a younger Atomic, as the visuals bravely persist in showing them in the vitality of their youth.
They’re firing on all cylinders with the stalking menace of Hanging on the telephone, while new song Good boys pulses like Girls Aloud stuck in a lift with the Rolling Stones, although expecting another sing-along might be ambitious. Meanwhile Kessler’s solo guitar takes 1999’s surprise number 1 Maria for the sort of spin Ferris Bueller wished to undo.
Then, just when you think Clem looks so comfy he could be at home, he spins a stick to the rafters, catching it without missing a beat, and drum solo’s to announce Call Me; its hi-nrg lines fresh as ever.
It’s a short gig, lengthened by Happy Birthday sing-a-long to Debbie, and an epic extended mix of Rapture. Its sugar hill gang rap as disarming as ever, ‘Fab five Freddie told me everybody’s high…’, springs with vitality younger bands daren’t dream of. With more guitar solos, its segue into Beastie Boys’ You got to fight for your right’, makes so much sense you’re barely aware they’ve done it. And they’ve STILL got Atomic, now perfectly updated with the slightest synth flourishes.
They leave, still not having played Denis, but with not only men too old for t-shirts smiling, but also themselves. Perhaps the retirement should be put on ice for a while yet.