On Wednesday 3rd May 2017 Blondie brought the buzz of their new album ‘Pollinator’ to London’s Camden Roundhouse, where they played their first UK show since 2014. The highly anticipated gig was accompanied by the bands pop up store over at Camden Market, which included an exhibition of guitarist Chris Stein’s photography and ensured that fans were kitted out with limited edition merchandise before the gig had even begun.
Preceded by the sounds of bees buzzing, the band walked on to rapturous applause from the crowd, with Debbie Harry keeping up to her effortlessly cool reputation as she strolled on last dressed in a furry bee headband and a black tunic with the words ‘STOP FUCKING THE PLANET’ on it. The band kicked off proceedings with the instantly recognisable ‘One Way Or Another’ before Debbie addressed the crowd for the first time; “Is anybody there? Are we at the Roundhouse? In London?” Fans roared in response and it was clear that Blondie’s presence in the UK had been missed.
Though promoted as an album launch, the band went from hit to hit, slowing down for the first and only time of the night to play a stunning rendition of ‘In The Flesh’, showcasing Harry’s vocals that are as breathtaking today as they were when the band formed in the 1970’s. The set list included six tracks from ‘Pollinator’; four of which fans had become more than familiar with as they’ve been released digitally and/or as 7″ singles in independent record stores. One being the albums leading track ‘Fun’; an upbeat disco track that’s exactly what the title suggests, as well as their latest single ‘Long Time’, ‘Fragments’ and the Johnny Marr penned ‘My Monster’.
More than often referred to as an icon (and rightly so too) Harry is the perfect front woman; dancing around the stage to tracks old and new in a playful manner, as well as maintaining rapport with the crowd – wittily referring to Stein’s “fascination with an illuminated screen” at one point, before diving in to the gorgeous ‘Fragments’; a track that they discovered online, originally by Vancouver artist an Unkindness. Other new tracks such as the exhilarating ‘Gravity’ and the infectiously catchy ‘Too Much’ sat alongside classics such as ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Atomic’ perfectly, with ‘Atomic’ in particular highlighting Clem Burke’s powerhouse drumming and both Stein’s intricate guitar work and Tommy Kessler’s shredding solos as he played from on top of a speaker – all whilst Harry took a step back, leaning on the side stage barrier and taking in the sheer talents of the other five members of the band.
For such an iconic band, there’s no hint of arrogance to them at all as both Harry and Stein gazed at the crowd in awe, constantly smiling in response to the mass singalong’s that took place all night. Harry’s flawless delivery of ‘Rapture’ was followed with a blistering cover of the Beastie Boys ‘Fight For Your Right’ and it was refreshing to see them honour another band, despite having more than enough tracks in their back catalogue to fill a set list.
The night came to an end with the dazzling ‘Dreaming’ and it was breathtaking to see the level of adoration for the band among the crowd, as well as Harry’s heartfelt delivery of the chorus as she stood in the spotlight with her eyes closed. Harry graciously thanked the crowd for being incredible and the band came together and took a well deserved bow before leaving the stage and a sold out venue full of fans that never wanted the night to end.