Blondie review: New Yorkers bring timeless glitz and glamour to Isle Of Wight Festival with hit-laden set
20 June 2023, 13:58
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It's easy to see why Blondie is often confused as the alter ego of their singer.
Her combination of bleached blonde hair, edgy glamour, and being heart-penetratingly gorgeous meant she was the poster girl for the musical movement which merged the spirit of punk with elements of disco, pop, and even reggae.
Fast forward 44 years since the band first topped the charts in the UK and the US, and Blondie still have the cache to sell out arenas and command lofty spots on festival billings.
That's ultimately down to the effervescence of Debbie Harry, who celebrates her 78th birthday next month. Yes, 78th birthday implausibly.
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She's only grown into more of an icon as the years have gone by, and has become an example of 'never-say-die' attitude for women (and girls) of all ages.
And as soon as Blondie entered the Isle Of Wight Festival stage, thousands of onlookers almost gasped with astonishment at how incredible Harry looked, taking to their phones to Wikipedia her exact age.
Of course, it's not all about how Debbie looked: how would Blondie sound and stand out in amongst the many junior artists that preceded them and who were very likely influenced by them?
It's safe to say that no artist can do glitz, glamour, and gutsy punk like Blondie. And they made sure the crowd of 55,000 people knew it.
Decked out in a mirrored visor, black Macintosh coat and matching cropped shorts which showed off her enviable pins, Blondie burst in 'One Way Or Another' without any prior introduction.
Supported by a masterclass from original drummer Clem Burke and former member of The Sex Pistols in Glen Matlock, the band were on raucous form as Debbie sauntered to and from the front row down the gangway.
Understandably they were without Chris Stein who pulled out of their recent live tour, but still remains a permanent member of the band and will contribute to their next album.
The Isle Of Wight Festival knew they were in for a hit-laden set as soon as 'Hanging On The Telephone' and 'Call Me' were blasted out next.
Blondie weren't missing a beat - it seemed that even the audience was surprised about the unrelenting hits the New Yorkers were churning out.
For a crowd that’s a mixed bag - old heads, teeny boppers, club ravers, and all ages of children - the band still evidently retain a universal appeal.
Blondie - Call Me | Live at Isle Of Wight Festival 2023 | Sky Arts
Debbie's detractors say that her voice has gone, give it up, whilst her many admirers will commend her for the energy and enthusiasm she shows at her age.
Ultimate, as I’m Debbie Harry has been entirely aware of throughout the duration of her career, is that as a woman she’s always going to be judged, and very likely judged harshly.
What better way to give the proverbial middle finger to her critics than to jam-pack their set with top-to-toe classics to remind everyone how they can still keep a crowd bopping?
Blondie stepped down the ferocious pace with 'Rapture' and sing-a-long 'The Tide Is High', Debbie frequently offering out her microphone to the masses to chant back at her.
It might've been a way to disguise her vocals, which were a bit stringy on occasion, though came back in full force for rousing renditions of 'Atomic' and its iconic riff, and the band's 1997 comeback chart-topper 'Maria'.
Debbie then left the stage, returning in a glittering mosaic outfit resembling a disco ball for their perennial favourite hit 'Heart Of Glass'.
As she conducted the waving arms of the audience, the choral "Nah nah nah nah-nah, nah-nah-nah nah nah nah" echoed throughout the festival's Seaclose Park surrounds.
'Denis' and 'Dreaming' brought the band's riotous hour-long set to its conclusion, amping up the energy and excitement for Robbie Williams to headline the festival just after them.
One thing Blondie did prove however, was that one way or another, they can still get an enormous crowd going with their arsenal of timeless tracks.