Blondie put on a set of intense highs and lows at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Despite the fact Melbourne claims it’s summer, it’s an unnaturally crisp night at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, that doesn’t stop the diehard Blondie fans from gathering. The mix of hipster and grey haired warriors are more than a little odd and eager.
Three projection screens behind the stage start showing a rotation of symbols to announce the arrival of the (not so) New Wave band they’ve come to seen.
Debbie Harry is dressed in silver pedal pushers and a gold jacket, which defiantly says ‘screw you ‘ to her 67 years. She is however without the death defying heels she would have worn in the '70s, in favour of low heeled sensible shoes.
Blondie throw the crowd a bone by kicking straight into 'Dreaming' and 'Hanging on the Telephone' as a swift double punch, providing some welcome looks of recognition from those who might not be dire hard fans.
The band themselves are as sharp as ever, but Debbie’s vocals are a little shaky and she opts for the lower register if she can. That said, no one watching seems to mind and there’s nothing more punk than having been there done that and having nothing to prove.
Ploughing through 'Love Doesn’t Frighten Me', Debbie explains they will be playing something old and something new and a surprise, adding that “Nothing’s a surprise anymore, though, because of the internet.” Debbie is a flirt and everything she says is lapped up greedily.
Warmed up, they bring out the big guns with 'Call Me', complete with a fully-fledged keytar solo, providing something that many would argue is missing from modern music.
After appeasing the '80s gods, Blondie risk a new song by offering ‘Wipe off my Sweat’ from the 2011 album Panic of Girls. Sorry to report, the newer tune is a crazed marimba ringtonesque number without any of the hooks. If the appeal was drunken British tourists on mini break to Ibiza then they’ve hit their mark.
The mob can’t complain for long, however, as 'Tide is High’ wins everyone over once more. There is a shameless bass solo followed by a competitive effort on drums by ‘Dr Burt’. As Debbie explains, “He was given a doctorate for participating in extreme drum experiments... it was only then we found out he had a heart."
Not to be left out, Tommy Kessler picks it up for team guitar midway through 'Atomic' with a total out-and-out shred, complete with finger tapping and some on-the-knees-with-my-Gibson-SG action. These gents are old school and clearly when you’re one of several men in a band remembered for its frontwoman, it’s a situation of more is more. The song ends by seamlessly shifting into eight stolen bars of 'No Sleep Till Brooklyn', reminding us that yes, they are from New York: take that!
Sneaking another new song into the set list. ‘Mother’ is received warmly, and then we're into a modern twist on determined lady anthem 'One Way or Another', with the lyrical addition of: "I know your Facebook password“, before the gents compete with some intentional amp feedback.
With that, it seems it’s all over, with the band leaving the stage with a simple: "Thanks. Some other time." but then they're back and dedicating their encore to porn star Ron Jeremy, who is erect and present in the crowd somewhere. Favouring a cover rather than one of their own, they offer their take on Frankie Goes to Hollywoood's 'Relax'. It’s fun, silly and energetic... and it seems unfair that they’ve really found their stride at the end of their set.
Leaving for real this time on a high note with 'Heart of Glass', Blondie are triumphant if a little beat. As Debbie herself states, "Cruise on motherfuckers cruise on."