I’ve lived in New York for four years now and the experience has been life-changing. I love music and I love New York. Blend the two and you get Blondie. What act is more quintessentially New York than Blondie? I think about them trailblazing new wave and punk music in their heyday, haunting venues in the ’70s and ’80s like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, hanging out at Studio 54, Deborah Harry rapping in “Rapture” before rap music became main stream, and living through everything that’s happened in New York for the 41 years I’ve been alive. What does New York look like through Deborah Harry’s eyes? That’s a conversation I would love to have. Getting to see Blondie perform at Highline Ballroom to promote their new album, Panic of Girls, is a highlight of my concert experiences this year.
Blondie still features founding members, guitarist Chris Stein and singer Deborah Harry, tonight donning a wig from the Emmylou Harris collection, and drummer Clem Burke. They opened with three classics: “Union City Blue,” “Dreaming,” my favorite Blondie song every, and my next favorite song, “Atomic.” The latter featured a show-stopping guitar solo. At this point I’m nearly wetting myself. And Deborah Harry just doesn’t give a shit. She’s the honey badger. She walks the line of gracious appreciation for her fans’ roaring reception and stoic attitude that only comes with age, wisdom and experience. The set list is balanced too with classics anchoring work off Panic of Girls, that clearly has the members of Blondie very excited. My favorites off the new album are mad-hooky “What I Heard,” “Mother,” tango-tinged “Wipe Off My Sweat” and “Love Doesn’t Frighten Me,” which sounded like classic Blondie. Loved it.
More highlights were “Call Me” and one for the girls, their 1999 hit “Maria.” But the best came last. Closing out the principal set they played “Rapture” with the full rap and everything. Deborah Harry’s face after ranting her rap was priceless. She stood there motionless, lips pursed, cold stare and arms over her head. Amazing. Then they mashed up the balance of the song with the Beastie Boys’ party anthem, “You Gotta Fight for Your Right.” Then came “One Way Or Another,” arguably their best known song. But it didn’t end there. They returned for a three song encore, the aforementioned “Love Doesn’t Frighten Me,” “Hanging on the Telephone” and “Heart of Glass.” I felt so fortunate that I got to see this legendary band perform in such a small venue, and in the neighborhood where Debbie Harry lives. Blondie taught me that dreaming is free. I still dream.