With works from her black and white Parallel Lines vinyl cover of 1978, to her totally color coordinated red, orange, peach, salmon, and gold outfit, set design, lighting, and 2004 CD cover The Curse of Blondie - Debbie Harry gave a startling performance on May 10, 2004.
Even through binoculars or against the stage, one could not tell that she draws near 59 years old because she was as vibrant as her music videos and even more invigorating than at Nation, her June 9, 1999 D.C. concert (limited only by a smaller stage there). She danced, involved her five band members and the audience while energizing the entire concert.
The 9:30 Club's basically standing-room-only floor area and loft notwithstanding; this was an inclusive performance, not just a concert. The eclectic audience validated Blondie's timeless appeal. Ages ranged from the total teeny bopper huge fans- who were able to coax original lineup member, guitarist Chris Stein from the band bus after the show to an impromptu meet & greet with about 25 fans- to, many folks well in their fifties.
Gender spanned the gamut as well- gay couples, lesbian couples, heterosexual couples who were in love with the music and each other, "ballroom" dancing together; groups of gay and straight friends enjoying the music and singing and dancing; single folks mingling and flowing through the crowd and the balconies- again spanning five generations.
The attire was equally diverse- jeans, punk, an almost cult following of former Good Witch outfits, suits, evening dresses, and spandex. Everyone was friendly; we were all part of the Blondie village community- under her spell perhaps, and not an evil one at that because there was no cluttered feeling to the atmosphere which encased a full house.
The set list included thirty years of Blondie pieces with three interludes for Debbie's repartee with all of us, for her brief Riverdance-type tap dance, for a guitarist's solo, or for her dramatic reappearances on stage. To this classically trained musician's ear, Debbie's voice maintains its unique, strong tonal quality.
Some early songs were pleasingly updated with hiphop beats infused, while the classic pieces were perfectly presented with much audience participation. Blondie's contemporary pieces were unmistakably reminiscent and powerful. Occasionally, an audience member would break the spell to utter a request and I believe, everyone's wishes were granted.
The Blondie ensemble included Florida born Deborah Harry, veteran guitarist Chris Stein, a keyboardist, a versatile drummer, a rock star ready guitarist, and a bass player. After one pause, Debbie returned with what appeared to be Chris Stein's Fender guitar to jam a bit in his place.
All six musicians wove competently between the new wave, punk, disco, pop, reggae, hiphop, rap, and alternative genres of Blondie's repertoire. Debbie was the conductor for all those present- the production was quite a success.
Blondie's two Capitol encore selections were beautifully interwoven three song medleys. The sound was excellent, the musicians well-balanced, and the backdrops dramatically and colorfully brilliant.
D.C. setlist: Midnight Express * Atomic * Dreaming * Hanging On The Telephone * X-Offender * Hello, Joe * Good Boys * Maria * Rules for Living * End to End * Accidents * Union City Blue * I'm Always Touched by Your Presence Dear * The Tide is High * Tingler * Rapture * Undone * Rip Her To Shreds * One Way Or Another * Encore: Call Me > Golden Rod > Fade Away * Diamond Bridge > Heart of Glass > Magic
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Curse of Blondie
Deborah Harry as the Good Witch from the East
by Susan Bardenhagen