New York City punk and pop icons Blondie brought a taste of their revered catalogue to the Sony Centre last night (July 26), to an absolutely buzzing crowd.
Leading lady Debbie Harry, still all the babe she was back in the '70s, was a proper queen bee, sporting a double bee headband, black and yellow stripes and a cape that read "STOP FUCKING THE PLANET" that together both acknowledged their latest record titled Pollinator ("We dedicated it to saving the bees," said Harry) and tied in their recent activism regarding saving the world's bee population. At one point, Harry had a minor struggle when her headband slowly began to fall off her iconic blonde locks, but dealt with it with cheekiness and charm: "Despite the fact that they wrecked my hair, I shall persevere."
In their set, Blondie truly did as they pleased. After opening with a hit parade — "One Way or Another" off of 1978's Parallel Lines, "Call Me" from 1980's American Gigolo, featuring a rather fun keytar solo from Matt Katz-Bohen (who joined the band in 2008), new tune "My Monster" and perhaps the ultimate Blondie tune, 1980's "Rapture" (Harry truly had a time with the rap part, this song being the first ever to include rap and top the charts) — the band went on to perform a few covers: Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," Unkindness's "Fragments" (which they covered for Pollinator) and a surprise punk version of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," which Harry introduced as "a famous song by a Canadian punk artist, I think you'll recognize it."
For "Long Time," co-written by Blood Orange's Dev Hynes, Harry showed her cheeky side again: "We thought we'd include it in our… package. It's hard, these words become forbidden. Oh, what the fuck," she said through a smile.
Drummer Clem Burke still hits the kit as if his life were on the line, guitarist Chris Stein shifted from looking like the definition of ice cold cool to casually ripping a solo and though Harry has adjusted her singing, as her register isn't quite as high and vast as it once was, she's still got that ineffable air of greatness and magnetism about her.
Newest member Tommy Kessler is a true talent on the guitar, but things got a little too hammy at the end of "Atomic," as he crossed off every move on the list of braggart behaviour — shredding from one end of the stage to the other, raising one hand in the air, playing behind his back and ending with a jumping kick. Nice moves, but remember that you're in the presence of Debbie Harry.
As Blondie rounded out the night with "Heart of Glass," "Dreaming" and "The Tide Is High" (with quite a boisterous outro, Burke's drumming providing a highlight as he soloed in front of archival footage of his younger self playing on the three screens at the back). The mixed-age crowd showed their appreciation for the band with ample dancing and clapping, and Blondie drank it all up with a final ensemble bow.