Review By: Molly Segers
Photos By: Hillery Terenzi
“For the first time ever, East Coast meets West Coast!” John Doe decreed Tuesday night at Buckhead Theatre as X, legends of LA punk, opened for Blondie, one of the biggest acts to come out of the NYC punk scene of CBGB’s.
The show may have been taking place in a perfectly polished theatre, but a few members of the multigenerational audience transcended the location to the dirty rock club in their hearts as they pogoed, slammed, and pumped their fists in the air. X added to this vibe with a few false starts. Anyone and anywhere else the imperfections would have detracted from the show, but here it added to the authenticity. Punk is not about perfections, after all. The collections of Exene Cervenka lookalikes ate it up, stomping their combat boots all the while.
When Blondie came out they proved just how at home they were in that perfect theatre. They may have been born of the punk scene but the punk/pop/reggae/rap/etc mash up gives them a glamour that is uniquely their own. Original members Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke were joined by bassist Leigh Foxx, keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen, and guitarist Tommy Kessle.
Harry may be the face of the band, but for my money it was a toss-up between Kessle and Burke for who was the bigger rock star of the night. Kessle covered both acoustic and electric guitar on some songs and was nothing short of amazing as he ripped his way through solos. Burke was brilliant on solos of his own that would shut up any naysayer that thought for a moment that he’d slowed at all with age. This was incredibly refreshing as tours like this have a high instance of performers on rock star autopilot, just going through the motions and saying the exact same thing night after night, year after year. Tonight Stein was stoic and Harry was her usual fabulous self, but Burke and Kessle were definitely digging every minute of it.
For the set list they opted against the normal “just the hits” mentality that’s common for any band that’s been around as long as Blondie has. Instead they relied heavily on the new records and album cuts, so if you only knew the greatest hits this was not the show for you. For every “One Way or Another” (their opener) there was “A Rose By Any Name” and “X Offender”. That said, we still got “Atomic,” “Rapture,” “Hangin’ On the Telephone,” “Tide is High” and even a brief moment of The Beastie Boys, “No Sleep till Brooklyn”. For the encore we got “Art of Love,” “Call Me,” The Misfit’s “Along for the Ride” and, “Dreaming”. All I can really say that was missing was “Maria,” the brilliant but oft forgotten single from 1999’s No Exit, but still a most awesome night, especially for those of us who never got the chance to see these bands in a proper rock club.