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Review: Blondie at Manchester O2 Apollo

Debby Harry and co are back to plug new album Pollinator

manchestereveningnews.co.uk – 13th November 2017

By Gareth Tidman

It could be argued that Manchester owes a huge debt to Blondie.

It was the Big Apple trailblazers who first married the new wave attitude to disco, taking the spirit of NYC punk hang-out CBGBs and welding it to the exciting new dance sounds emerging from the city’s far more glamorous Studio 54 nightclub in the 1970s.

It is a formula that later proved so successful for our own New Order, laying the groundwork for the Hacienda night club, Madchester and all that followed.

In the forty-odd years since Blondie formed, the band has been through splits, drug addiction, financial woes, and public spats.

They also managed to shift 40 million records, their late seventies heyday seeing the release of a string of solid gold pop hits – including Heart of Glass, Call Me, and Hanging on the Telephone – as thrilling as any ever committed to vinyl.

And in Debbie Harry they had a front woman with supermodel looks and dripping with New York street sass.

Now they are back with Pollinator, their first new album since 2014’s Ghost of Download.

As well as self-written tracks, the album features a number of songs written by outsiders including TV on the Radio’s David Sitek, Sia, Nick Valensi of The Strokes and, Manchester’s very own Johnny Marr.

New tracks Long Time and Fun hint at a return to former glories, but while enjoyable, never quite take them to the same heights.

Hopes are high that the former Smiths guitarist Marr will join the band for a rendition of his composition My Monster, but the crowd are left disappointed.

A packed Apollo – even with tickets priced upwards of £47 – is testament to Manchester’s enthusiasm for well-crafted pop delivered with attitude.

Harry still cuts a impressive figure, even if she could pass for a more rebellious younger sister of Hillary Clinton these days.

At times the band show their age, Harry sips from a tea mug between songs and a roadie comes on after the support act to give the stage a quick hoover.

Sadly, the 70s attitude wears a little at times and is too often replaced with an 80s and 90s MOR rock sheen.

That said, Atomic is as mean and menacing as it always was and they roll away the years on Rapture, which retains all of its funky sleaziness. Even at 72, Harry can still deliver a mean rap.

Dreaming sends us to our beds and the crowd leave happy that they have taken a rare chance to spend a night in the company of pop royalty.


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