Deborah Harry of Blondie - Live at Nokia Theater in New York City - photo by Michael Sherer
Blondie made their hometown and enthusiastic crowd in the middle of Times Square proud. The band was in very good form, and front woman Deborah Harry sounded and looked great. The venue was very close to its full capacity at 2100. The stellar acoustics and spacious room was a big plus to the fun. This is a long way from their humble beginnings at the biker bar/dive CBGB’s on The Bowery in NYC during the mid to latter ‘70’s. This venue was formally the Astor Plaza movie theater until it became the Nokia Theater in 2005. In early September of 2010, it changed its name to the Best Buy Theater after the expiration of Nokia’s five year contract.
In addition to the audience being quite excited, so was Harry. Winding up their summer tour in their hometown was clearly a thrill for the band. Although Harry was actually raised in Hawthorne New Jersey by adoptive parents, she moved to NYC in the late ‘60’s. Co founder Chris Stein is from Brooklyn, as is original keyboardist Jimmy Destri. Original drummer and bassist Clem Burke and Gary Valentine, respectively, both hail from Bayonne, New Jersey. Harry made it clear that it was very special for them to be back where it all started for them. Since June, they had been far from home on their summer tour, covering the UK and Ireland.
Their biggest hits were served up, as well as a few songs from their two records since reforming in 1996, (They had disbanded in 1982). A new disc called Panic Of Girls will be released in early 2011. A new and young looking guitarist is in tow, named Tommy Kessler. He’s exceptional, and added bite and flash to the sound. Harry, Stein and Burke are the only original members remaining. Bassist Leigh Foxx and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen round out the rest of the line up.
Harry wore an essentially white colored wig throughout, and until the extended encore sported a white, frilly, ballerina style dress. From the encore until the end though, she had on tight white shorts, a simple top and looked much more like her old self of the ‘70’s. Her figure is closer to what it was in the old days than it was for their first reunion tour in 1998-1999. Seeing Harry in those tight shorts was surely a distraction from the music for many guys in the crowd. She’s always been quite the looker of course, and the band’s name was derived from having guys cat calling “Hey Blondie!” to her before the group was formed in 1975. Thirty five years on, at the age of 65, Harry still commands the center of attention on stage. More importantly, she delivers the goods.