BLONDIE, Roundhouse – Evening Standard, 4 May 2017

 

You know you’re successful when your band has lasted long enough for the lyrics to be out of date. Debbie Harry, still the blonde one in Blondie at 71, had to explain the line about a phone booth in her band’s 1978 song Hanging on the Telephone.

Thankfully she didn’t change the title of Call Me to “Tweet Me”, but Blondie have embraced the modern world of music production on their new album Pollinator, out tomorrow. It sees the core creative duo of Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, 67, handing over most of the songwriting duties to notable outsiders including Sia, Dev Hynes and Johnny Marr. The result, improbably, is not a wayward mess but the strongest Blondie album since their late Nineties reformation.

Alongside the evergreen hits such as Heart of Glass and Atomic, they played Maria, the comeback song from 1999 – the days when you could still get a number one single despite not being Ed Sheeran. New songs Fun, with its disco whoops, and Long Time, with its familiar rhythmic pulse, may not get as much opportunity to be exposed to potential new fans but were as impressive as anything from the band’s late period.

Among the founding trio, Stein looked curiously static and ghoulish next to the effusive drumming of Clem Burke, 61. Harry fell somewhere in the middle, grooving casually in a red dress and gold platform trainers.

Her voice was a shade lower than in her pomp but just about coped with Rapture’s upper register. She remains as cool as they come, all the better now she has a worthwhile reason to get back on the road.

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