Debbie Harry has always been a timeless, iconic platinum blonde with breathy angelic vocals and an innocent, yet mischievous, pixie-like personality. Her music and style have been an inspiration for me and on Friday, September 23, I finally got to see her in the flesh along with the rest of her fabulous band, Blondie, at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park. (I bet you couldn’t guess that the band was named for the wolf whistles that men would often yell at Harry in passing, “Blondie!”) Formed in the mid-1970’s, Blondie has been touring and together for the better part of 35 years and for this tour they brought along another late 70’s to early 80’s favorite, The Romantics, with them.
Opening for Blondie seemed like a tall order for The Romantics who attacked their songs like a business transaction – always getting right down to it. They performed the traditional rock band moves where they got the crowd singing and clapping in time, harmonized their vocals, wailed on the guitar riffs, had dual guitar face offs, and highlighted different members musical talents during select songs throughout the show. Everyone in the amphitheater loved when The Romantics played their hit songs, Talking In Your Sleep and What I Like About You. My favorite musician/character in the band was their drummer, Brad Elvis, who wore an attention-getting red and black striped jacket. A fairly new addition to the band, Elvis was energetic and while killin’ it on the drums, he also managed to continually get the crowd riled up with drumstick tricks, twirls and flips.
And on to Blondie! Ok, so how else would you expect Blondie to grace the stage than by lead singer Debbie Harry dancing around her band? Dressed in a black sparkly jacket with matching sparkly dark sunglasses, a red tie, and a fabulous red tutu, Harry looked like a punky, new wave pixie underneath her iconic platinum blond hair. Within the first few songs, Blondie performed Dreaming. After that Harry thanked The Romantics by saying, “Thanks Romantics! There’s nothing I like better than guys in tight pants.” When Blondie did Atomic, it turned into a big sing-along. Before performing D-Day, a new song from their most recent album “Panic of Girls” (their ninth studio album which was released in May 2011), Harry made an anecdote about how she wrote the song with inspiration from when her mother always used to tell her, “Debbie, Don’t you dare!”After playing some new songs, Blondie returned back to their popular new wave roots and sang Call Me. Harry gave a coy giggle as she said told the audience that The Romantics played Don’t Call Me and Blondie played Call Me, saying that they were always confused up on stage. Throughout the show, Harry gradually stripped off layers of clothing between songs – starting with the sunglasses, then the tie between another two songs, and then the tutu came off during one of the long instrumental portions of a song to reveal a tight black mini dress with red belt and knee length black leggings. (Eventually the sparkly jacket came off as well.) During the new song Horizontal Twist Harry and a male vocalist took turns singing back and forth as a keytar was played by a guy with a mullet. Yes, a keytar! As the show went on Harry’s vocal chords seemed to warm up and she sounded great as she rapped through Rapture. Then from Rapture, Blondie transitioned into the Beastie Boys’ (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) and the crowd just howled, lost their minds, and went into party mode, singing and dancing. They then played One Way or Another and left the audience hanging for a minute before coming back to play The Tide is High and Heart Of Glass for the final encore.
At the end of the night as my heart was enraptured with Blondie, I was beyond ecstatic to have seen this “adorable illusion” that was Debbie Harry, one of my platinum blond inspirations and icons, singing and dancing on stage several feet away from me.
I’d like to give an honorable mention to all the kind Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park employees. They were extremely helpful all night and I’m pretty sure every one of them that I encountered on my way out of the venue said, “Goodnight!” to me. The large venue was nice and clean with a great sound quality – I’d highly recommend seeing a show there any time! And lastly, Blondie’s fans were a really nice mix of people who had a really great energy – most danced and sang the night away and others went even further by dressing the part in neon pink clothing and blond wigs – so all in all, a great time was had by everyone!
Photos by the amazing Perry Julien