By Kyle Pineda
Born in Miami but made in New York, Debbie Harry came to town in support of the Blondie 4(0) Ever Tour and was greeted by the mass of fifty somethings who were excited to hear their favorite new wave tunes. To their credit, Blondie delivered just what the doctor ordered: a set list featuring tracks ranging from their forty year career, mixing in hits and newer songs off their most recent album, Ghosts of Download.
Now, let’s be upfront here…this wasn’t CBGB’s. Anyone attending this show expecting New York punk rock sensibilities and back alley 1978 nostalgia was going to be let down. Founding drummer Clem Burke did his best to remind everyone of the band’s roots with his “Max’s Kansas City” shirt, but this was essentially a private party put on by the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
The crowd might have been New Wave kids in days long gone, but at this point, they’re retired. Sure, the roped off sections and reserved seating for a party of eighteen in the first two rows were irksome, it isn’t something I can hold against the band. They don’t set rules at the venue, they just play them. As a matter of fact, such private shows can’t be held against any bands in this day and age, as artists have to make their money somehow.
The show began without an opening act. Instead, we were treated to a young Millennial DJ spinning 80’s hits from before his time such as Price’s “Kiss” mixed alongside house dance beats (which didn’t go over very well), and stopped shortly before Blondie took the stage. With a quick announcement, the band arrived on stage and took their places. Without saying a word, Blondie broke into a brisk rendition of “One Way or Another”, off their 1979 album “Parallel Lines”.
The band was sharp and instrumentally sounded great, but poor Debbie Harry was drowned out by the poor live mixing. For the first half of the show, it was difficult to make out what she was singing, or even saying between songs. It took generally a few measures of a song to kick in before the audience got wind of what was performed. Granted, the acoustics of this room weren’t top notch, which combined with shady live audio mixing made the rap in “Rapture” sound more like a muffled PA announcement. After the recently released “Sugar on the Side”, the band got the crowd going once again with a rousing sing-a-along rendition of “Heart of Glass”. It continued with the iconic “Atomic”, which famously combined disco beats with a spaghetti western guitar riff which seems inspired by an Ennio Morricone soundtrack.
The crowd mostly consisted of couples, as this was after all advertised as a Valentine’s Weekend show. Middle-aged men in their swank business suits squeezed in and out of the crowd on the way to their seats, with wine cups and martinis in each hand. Throughout the duration of the show, more and more people abandoned their seats and tried to get closer to the stage. Finally, the ropes separating both sides of the crowd fell, and people surged to center stage in time for Blondie’s closer. The band roared into the seminal “Call Me”, and those in attendance sung along. A once subdued crowd that had moved back and forth between their seats and the open bar had exploded in unison, singing at the top of their lungs throwing fists in the air. Despite technical problems plaguing the live sound and the limitations of the venue, Debbie Harry and the rest of “Blondie” didn’t let it affect them. Instead, they trudged onwards, just as they’ve done for the last 40 years.
- Debbie Harry at 68, is still as stunning as ever.
- There was an actual keytar solo during “Call Me”.
- Surprisingly, Blondie omitted “Dreaming”, their highest charting US Billboard 100 single to not be played at the show.
- At the end of “Rapture” Blondie tagged an entire verse and chorus of Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)”.