good morning -
Blondie were on the periphery of my music radar for most of my life. A few years ago they smashed their way into the centre of it, and I became transfixed by their music.
In December 2020 I was gifted Face It, Deborah Harry’s autobiography, for Christmas. Less than a month later I was laid off. I clung onto that book. I read it every night and played Blondie’s self-titled album on my record player.
X Offender was one of my most-played songs last year.
Their music kept me going during those months, and later in the year when I was dealing with some non-career issues. I had a CD of Blondie’s Greatest Hits in my car. Until I traded that car in, I played the same 12 songs over and over again.
Fitzie’s Track of the Day, Part 1: In the Flesh, by Blondie
So when I moved to Washington, I resolved to see Blondie at The Anthem. Their music possessed such profound, almost formative emotions for me.
Blondie titled the tour “Against The Odds”, firstly, because of the pandemic. And, second, because they lost two of their band members due to health reasons. Guitarist and founding member Chris Stein couldn’t tour because of a heart issue, and bass player Leigh Foxx pulled out because of a back issue.
But who was brought in to replace Foxx? A freaking Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock. How cool is that?
That left Deborah Harry and Clem Burke as the two remaining original members on tour.
Harry may have been the star of the show, and the star of every show Blondie has ever performed, I could not take my eyes off of Burke.
I knew Burke was an amazing drummer. That much is clear on Atomic, one of the great drum tracks ever.
Fitzie’s Track of the Day, No. 2: Atomic
In the many shows I have attended - whether that be rock, blues, jazz, punk, disco, pop - I have never seen anyone drum like Burke. Nor have I seen anyone carry a band for an entire two hours the way he did.
Braving the general admission pit at The Anthem. I was transfixed on him during Fade Away and Radiate, the only member of the ensemble to ditch his bright-coloured suit jacket. Just to watch his hands at work was a sight to behold.
Then, in that final drum fill, he completely shifted gears from the reggae beat into The Tide is High, Blondie’s famous latin-flavoured cover of a song by Jamaican band The Paragons. It was the best 13 minutes of drumming I think I have ever heard.
And then the man did it again to close out the first set, when Blondie closed out with Heart of Glass. Only this time he sort of went into reverse, speeding up from the disco beat into the Sex Pistols’ punk-rock God Save The Queen.
(As a side note - I was thrilled that they opened with X Offender)
It’s hard to believe these band members are in their 70s. They have three decades on the Black Keys, who put up an insipid performance at Jones Beach a month earlier.
Even more, you could see what makes Blondie great. They made their name at the CBGB, trying to do new things, and Harry used her image to create a hard-cutting look for the band. This is a band that lives to perform, to shake things up.
Their music came into my life at the right time, perhaps when I needed to shake things up. I adore Harry’s charisma. There’s a certain point in X Offender where I just pause. I don’t quite understand why it makes me stop for a moment - it just hits me, you know?
Fitzie’s track of the day: X Offender, by Blondie
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