A little over four decades since Blondie emerged during the 70s New York punk scene, and three years since their last studio album, 2014’s Ghosts of Download, the legendary band are back with their 11th record, Pollinator.
This was my second time seeing Blondie live, having been lucky enough to get a ticket for their May 3rd show at London’s Roundhouse. From Row D of the Circle at Manchester’s O2 Apollo, I had a good view of the whole stage as the incomparable Debbie Harry appeared dressed in a custom Vin and Omi jacket emblazoned with the words “Stop Fucking The Planet” and wearing a bee mask in reference to the band’s dedication to saving the bees: a major theme of the new album and tour.
The band launched into hits ‘One Way or Another’ and ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ before playing the first Pollinator track of the night, the upbeat pop tune ‘Fun’, which Debbie clearly enjoyed performing. This was followed by the classic ‘Call Me’ and the new, Charli XCX-penned ‘Gravity’. Guitarist Chris Stein was effortlessly cool throughout, whilst Clem Burke provided a pounding backdrop via drums.
A perfect rendition of ‘Rapture’ preceded Pollinator’s outstanding ‘Fragments’, another timeless track which, although written by Adam Johnston (An Unkindness), has that unmistakable Blondie sound, especially with an intro that sounds like it could have belonged on No Exit. Fittingly, then, this was followed by 1999’s comeback hit ‘Maria’, accompanied by iconic visuals on screen.
Continuing to mix classic hits with new songs, next up was ‘Picture This’, to which the whole venue sang along. Introduced with a powerful solo from Chris, the iconic ‘Atomic’ followed Pollinator single ‘Long Time’, which is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the record and already a classic live.
The main set ended with ‘Heart Of Glass’, and the band left the stage to a standing ovation before returning for an encore. The show ended on a fantastic rendition of ‘Dreaming’, with Debbie reminding the crowd to “keep dreaming, and remember that dreaming is free, that we are free”, a statement that was met with cheers and left fans feeling empowered after a great night.
Words and images by Kayleigh Hinsley