Blondie Live By Request

Why Blondie even bothered agreeing to do a Live By Request set is something of a mystery. Did they honestly think anyone other than the host would ask for material from their new album? These sets have always been designed for old fans that wish to relive old glories and watch musicians labour through their repertoire. Inexplicably, while they have taken the money, Blondie refuses to play the game. It is apparent in watching LBR that Blondie is still, when they want to be, a great band. Every song the band plays from The Curse of Blondie finds the band springing to life, smiling and throwing their hearts into the material, selling themselves as being potent when, in truth, the opposite has been the case for 20 years. They can still be quite a spectacle when they want to be; every one of the songs from their most recent record easily takes an impressive stature when removed from the studio. Unfortunately, the new material only makes up about a third of Blondie's Live By Request set. The rest is a limp and lifeless run-through of the band's greatest hits that shows Blondie as worse than a mere tribute band. Only "Rapture" really gets a fair shake and reasonably decent performance, while "Heart Of Glass," "Call Me" and "One Way Or Another" all remove any shadows of doubt that Debbie Harry's voice is most definitely ravaged from age. Every time the band is asked to play a hit, she rolls her eyes and miserably yawns her way through the number like a petulant child. They may have asked for it, but Harry makes sure that they won't get her best. If Harry wishes to be seen as an effete artist that refuses to bow before her fans, she has succeeded, but her band took the wrong gig. As professionals, Blondie should be ashamed of themselves. (Sanctuary/EMI)