Sat in the my seat at The Brighton Centre and pondering the age of Debbie Harry before the show actually starts, I realise that at 66 this year marks the 50th year of me attending gigs. Yes that’s half a century of rock and pop and almost every other genre of music you might choose to name, and yes I have been lucky and seen many of the “greats” some of them more than once and Blondie now four times.

But last night I experienced something I have never seen before, a support act that filled the cavernous venue from the get go. Johnny Marr played an hour long set that created a buzz of respect and of adoration, a set that was headline act worthy and filled with his unique layered guitar sound as well as hits from his previous life in The Smiths. I loved it from the very first chord to the last and could have gone home happy having just experienced that set alone.

But we were there for Blondie and from past experience expectations were high, can they still do it? Can Debbie Harry, now in her mid 70s, still command the stage and the audience with the same energy. Too right she can, out she comes in red and black spotted leggings, black boots and a top that looks for all the world like a black bin liner cinched at the waist by a broad red belt. Black glasses in place and blonde locks blown back from her chiselled face she is every part the Harry that we want to see.

But does she still have the rest, the attitude, the voice, the… well what is it that makes Harry the star that she is. The answer is easy, she can still cut it and so can her band, on this occasion with bass guitarist Glen Matlock, yes Sex Pistols Glen, standing in. Debbie Harry is still a punk idol and a pop goddess!

The hits come thick and fast, it’s what most of us want, and for the hardcore fans there are less well known tracks too. It’s fast paced, loud and extremely entertaining. The visuals for me seemed a little predictable but amongst them some great images that brought back memories, but overall this performance brings together the rawness of the Blondie sound with a modern slickness that never overtakes that hard and edgy NYC vibe. Blondie’s punk credentials in my view were often softened by their ability to craft pop hits, but last night we got that hard edged sound at the heart, all be it one of glass, of their enduring success.

Andrew Kay

The Brighton Centre

28 April

Rating: ★★★★½

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