Blondie Makes a New York Homecoming During Co-Headlining Tour With Garbage
“It's really great to be home,” singer Debbie Harry said to the audience at New York City's Beacon Theatre, where her band Blondie played on Aug. 1. And it was fitting that the Rage and Rapture co-headlining tour with Garbage made a stop in the Big Apple, as it's where Blondie was born over 40 years ago, back to the wild days of CBGB's and the downtown punk scene. While many of their contemporaries have since faded into history, Blondie was working it by playing the hits and performing material from their new record, Pollinator. Based on the enthusiastic reaction from the crowd at the sold-out show, they still continued to strike a nerve.
For fans of both Blondie and Garbage, the Rage and Rapture tour, which began last month, makes sense on so many levels; the fact the two groups hadn't been done this before is remarkable. The similarities between them are so obvious: their brash punk-pop-alternative-rock music defined their respective eras -- Blondie in the '70s and Garbage in the '90s -- and both acts are fronted by charismatic and iconic female singers in Debbie Harry and Shirley Manson. Also, the two acts have shared history going back to 2006, when Manson inducted Blondie into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Thus, it seemed inevitable that Blondie and Garbage would find a way to collaborate with each other, and this heavily anticipated shared bill is the proof.
Blondie's long body of work would have justified a tour solely based on their hits alone, but the group's co-founders -- Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke -- aren't exactly resting on their laurels. Case in point is Pollinator, which featured collaborations with such diverse acts Charlie XCX, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Sia, the Strokes' Nick Valensi, and Joan Jett. Several of Pollinator’s catchy songs were performed at the Beacon show—among them “Fun,” “Long Time" and “My Monster.” In contrast, the band's performance of an Unkindness' "Fragments" brought a somber yet electrifying moment to the show.
Overall, the newer material fitted nicely with the hits that the crowd naturally got excited over, including "Call Me," "Atomic," "Rapture," “One Way or Another,” “Hanging on the Telephone” and "Heart of Glass," which appropriately ended the set on a high note. In between numbers was an unusual cover choice of Bob Dylan's “Rainy Day Women #12 and #35" given the sleek Blondie treatment.
As usual, Debbie Harry, who wore a black coat that said "Stop f---ing the planet" on the back, was the focal point who drew in the crowd with her charisma and sultry voice as well as her shimmying dance moves, Chris Stein delivered nimble guitar work, especially during his funky and angular solo on “Rapture,” and Clem Burke unleashed his trademark fearsome and explosive drumming.
Garbage were no slouches either in their set, and like Blondie, performed a balanced cross section of their musical career. The band's performance in New York City was a homecoming of sorts in that they had previously played the Beacon going back more than 20 years. Early on in the set, they performed a timely new song, “No Horses,” which singer Shirley Manson said earlier in a press statement, "'No Horses' is basically a dream fueled anxiety attack. A dark imagining of the future in which a presiding regime values only profit and success leaving no room for tiny beautiful things, small gestures and great beasts,"
There was a ferocious intensity during Garbage's set that elevated the studio recordings to a higher level -- “Sex Is Not the Enemy” was one of the standout performances. The band did not fail in delivering the hits, including “#1 Crush,” Queer,” “Special,” “I Think I'm Paranoid,””Only Happy When It Rains,” and “Vow.” Even with some early technical glitches, Garbage gamely carried on, and Manson was mesmerizing, no doubt influenced by Harry among other music and style icons.