Blondie at the Guvernment, May 1. Tickets. $49.50. Attendance: 1,000. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
I checked my messages around 7 pm on Saturday to discover that the show at the Guvernment started at 6. Blondie were due onstage at 7:30 pm, and everything was to end at 9. I abandoned the supper I was cooking (who schedules a rock show at dinner time?) and hightailed it down to the venue, where a security guard handed me a wristband that I'd need if I wanted to drink at the all-ages show.
Deborah Harry is 58 years old, for Pete's sake (59 in July, for those I overheard debating the issue that evening). How many teenagers were really going to come out to this show? Thirty, the same guard told me later.
About three minutes after I arrived, Blondie took the stage and launched into Atomic, to a gleeful reaction from the crowd. The old pros knew exactly how to come in with a bang, sticking to 70s classics for the first four tunes, getting everyone all excited before moving into a new one from their latest record, The Curse Of Blondie.
New stuff like Hello Joe and the disco-y Good Boys didn't grab me, but new tunes always throw people off at concerts. I didn't love Maria from No Exit when I saw them perform it five years ago, and now I think it's great.
And, really, it doesn't matter. We were just so excited Blondie'd put out a new record that didn't totally suck that we were willing to forgive anything, and still are.
The rest of the band remained unobtrusive, letting Harry be the centre of attention. They know who people are there to see.
Harry is still a formidable force onstage. Dripping attitude and self-confidence, she apologizes for nothing. Not for the outfit of shredded denim mini-skirt and yellow mesh top under a black tank that seemed better suited to the likes of Paris and Nicky than to a woman who's spent a good chunk of her life as a fashion icon. Not for the small amounts of trouble she seems to be having hitting those signature high notes - her voice's more sultry and smoky now. Not for the less-than-punchy new arrangement of Call Me. Not for anything.
She knows that few, if any, women in rock have even come close to achieving her level of credibility and cool