• Mark Fraser

Blondie & Stranglers-Enmore Theatre December 2012

It’s a continuing issue for bands who were big during a certain era of music. Should they churn out the greatest hits live on stage or freshen up the old tunes with some fancy schmancy arrangements?



At the Enmore Theatre, some contrasting approaches to the problem were on show. The Stranglers , Jean Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield with able replacements for Hugh Cornwall and Jet Black., no longer the naughty boys of those far off punky new wave days, chose to play faithful versions of many tunes from their back catalogue, avoiding the Nice n Sleazy naughtiness...


Alas, this also meant they lacked a certain edge. While all of the songs were well played , a notable highlight being their rendition of Walk On By, as well as No More Heroes, Peaches, Nuclear Device and the big HIT Golden Brown, something felt like it was missing. Yes, JJ still wears the bass low and gives it a fair thump and Greenfield’s keyboard sound remains very distinctive.


Now to Blondie, a band who had great commercial and artistic success in their heyday, revolving around a series of classic pop songs , while still allowing the influence of early hip hop, reggae and more to come into their sonic palette.


Unfortunately, the strengths of Blondie were not on show often enough as they chose material not from their ‘classic’ era, decided to extend and workout on their songs. The ‘extend and workout’ option worked marvellously on Rapture, especially with the reprise including a snippet of No Sleep Till Brooklyn., however, on Atomic, it was less successful, concluding with an unnecessary and overblown guitar solo.


On the plus side, Debbie Harry still has incredible charisma- her voice, shaky at first was soon strong. Chris Stein, looking like Andy Warhol, hunched over his guitar, his coolness contrasting with the young guns in the band. Clem Burke is an amazing drumming powerhouse who drove the band with his infectious high energy.


Unfortunately, the strengths of Blondie were not on show often enough as they chose material not from their ‘classic’ era, decided to extend and workout on their songs. The ‘extend and workout’ option worked marvellously on Rapture, especially with the reprise including a snippet of No Sleep Till Brooklyn., however, on Atomic, it was less successful, concluding with an unnecessary and overblown guitar solo.


On the plus side, Debbie Harry still has incredible charisma- her voice, shaky at first was soon strong. Chris Stein, looking like Andy Warhol, hunched over his guitar, his coolness contrasting with the young guns in the band. Clem Burke is an amazing drumming powerhouse who drove the band with his infectious high energy.


It may seem to be quibbling to criticise both these bands for their approach but having been at Dig It Up this year where each act, with a long history and an extensive back catalogue, managed to honour the past without being weighed down by it, or choosing to ignore it, resulted in some incredible musical and (yes) emotional experiences.

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