walesonline.co.uk – 17th June 2023
By Ffion LewisSenior reporter
For a band that’s been kicking about for 40 years, nobody would blame Blondie for hanging up their boots – or in their case, shades. But if their huge Cardiff gig on Friday night proved anything, it’s that they have no plans of stopping.
On a scorching June night against the beautiful backdrop of Cardiff Castle, The Tide is High, Call Me and Atomic’s new wave rockers had the crowd hanging on their every word (no telephones this evening) as they brought their eclectic set to the Welsh capital for this year’s second DEPOT at the Castle gig.
And with over four decades of hits underneath their belt, the band had more than enough material to choose from but it was their wealth of experience in performing that really brought them to life. From Debbie’s dance moves, to the Clem Burke’s incredible drumming, it was a set with little to no let up.
While it’s difficult to look away from frontwoman Debbie Harry, it is co-founder, guitarist/conceptual mastermind Chris Stein and powerhouse drummer Clem Burke, as well as former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, guitarist Tommy Kessler, and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen who are all key in keeping the show on the road.
Despite the Parallel lines of queues, the people of the capital people were more than up for it with a buzz in the air from Wales Vs Armenia and Peter Kay also in the city.
The crowd was in Rapture as they arrived on stage just as the summer sun was going down and soon enough the band – with their leader dressed in a suave yellow three-piece suit with matching black shades and tie – showed that they’ve still got it.
They kicked things off with a bang with One Way or Another before running through the hits to keep the crowd on their feet from Hanging on the Telephone straight into Call Me. There was a slow moment of reflection with Fade Away And Radiate before running stright into an epic Atomic which had the biggest cheer of the night by far. Not to mention Harry’s evocative moves.
She may now be in her late 70s but Harry’s stage presence is still as captivating as it was in the 80s, stopping frequently to speak to the crowd including references to the incredible castle venue where she noted she was “waiting for arrows to come flying out of the castle.”
By the second half of the show the crowd – and the band – were really in full swing and while the arrangements have been altered slightly to suit Harry’s now more mature voice these versions are still just as good. If anything, it was a real pleasure to see such classics performed slightly differently but still with the same gravitas that made them hits the first time around.
The crowd was well behind the band for their famous rendition of The Tide is High with their leader ridding herself of her jacket, tie and shades by now and noting – in what must be a rarity for artists in Wales – “I never expected it to be so hot”.
After back-to-back hits, it was only fair that it was time for some of Blondie’s newer material including Doom or Destiny before launching back to the classics the crowd came for, such as Maria and the epic Heart of Glass. Much has been said about Harry’s vocals in recent years but she was more than capable of giving the crowd what they asked for with this notoriously difficult hit! The crowd only roared further as halfway through she donned a metal cape.
The encore swept into an energetic rendition of Dennis before ending the atomic performance on Dreaming, which really put the band at the forefront. They may have been around for a long time but One Way Or Another, Blondie have still got it.