It’s difficult to know what to write about such a legendary band who have had every kind of praise and criticism imaginable thrown their way. It’s also difficult to try and write with a sense of objectivity rather than just as a fan. That being said, there is certainly no shortage of things to say about one of the most iconic bands in history.
The band have always had to reiterate that they are in fact a band, and not just backup to one of the most iconic and stunning frontwoman of all time. As flash as the rest of the band look, it is difficult to draw attention away from Debbie Harry as she emerges from the side of the stage draped in a cape with “Stop f***ing the planet” emblazoned on it, and what looks like Madonna’s conical bra on her head.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers played to a packed Hydro in promotion of Pollinator, the album released earlier in the year. It’s no surprise though that the setlist consisted mostly of the classics with just a smattering of new material.
Songs like Call Me and Heart of Glass are humungous and marked the biggest reaction from the crowd, as you’d expect- likewise, Atomic and Union City Blues. All these legendary songs still sound brand new when pumped through the amps within the impressive Hydro arena.
That’s not to say the new material didn’t hold its own. Fun is a song that slips neatly into the extensive Blondie back catalogue. The disco drums and hooky guitars are sung over by the rich voice of Debbie Harry.
The only real lull of the night was through the Charlie XCX-penned Gravity. But when you can bracket any weak song with the monster hits that Blondie have, then any lull is easy to forgive and forget.
Although there is new blood within the line-up, the “original” band members made clear that they still have it through Clem Burke’s plentiful drum solos and fills (some of which have been known to cause Debbie Harry to roll her eyes and wander off halfway through), as well as Chris Stein’s swirling, fuzzy guitar solo.
Of course the band are still arena-sized and the Hydro is a good venue, certainly a giant leap up from the characterless, soulless SECC. But you can’t help but wonder how a change of venue would impact the overall atmosphere of the gig. Somewhere like the Barrowlands or even something much more cramped and dingey would make for a more intense feeling and possibly a livelier crowd.
As I say, they are undoubtedly an arena band now and they know what they are doing. Last night saw glitching neon screens and lights that outdoes many modern band’s setups. Blondie are also as aware as anyone of just how sizeable their pop-hit weapons are; the pace and delivery again, outdoing many of today’s arena-fillers.
by Luke Hawkins