Live Review: Blondie with The Romantics at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Atlanta, 9/23/11
The punk/post-punk/new wave movement has been littered with bodies since it changed the musical landscape in the late seventies and early eighties. There are few bands who have withstood the test of time and still remain relevant. Very few. Blondie appears to be one of the lucky ones. The relevance is underscored with the new release Panic of Girls this month, a near-return to Blondie’s early eighties glory.
Sixty-something rock veteran Debbie Harry showed real vim and vigor and exhibited why she became famous in the first place. Many songs were off the new record and fell smoothly within the realm of Blondie’s early work. Along with Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drumming wonder Clem Burke remain from the original line up. Burke, who is clearly a Keith Moon devotee, tore through those drums like he was 20 again, CBGB shirt and all.
And Harry sang like her 20-year-old self. It’s one thing to do reunion tours. It’s a whole other thing to do these tours behind a new album of original material. Good material. All the old favorites were on the set list, including “Atomic,” “Call Me” and “Rapture,” which led seamlessly into a full-on cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right.” This was a surprise to many in the audience and sounded incredible. The encore consisted of two of their biggest songs, “The Tide Is High” and “Heart Of Glass.”
The Romantics proved yet again why they were MTV and Top 40 darlings in the early eighties. The sing-along hits were all played. “Talking In Your Sleep,” “Rock You Up,” “She’s Got Everything” and the big one, “What I Like About You.” Lead singer Wally Palmar tours with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band when on hiatus with The Romantics. Brad Elvis raised the bar for the Romantics hits with his precision drumming skills. Often referred to as the “four-handed drummer,” Elvis entertained fans with his hijinks behind the kit. But the real draw is his efficient use of the space-time continuum on those skins. One must see it to believe it, but this dude’s one of the best drummers in the country. Like Burke, Elvis is a dyed-in-the-wool Moonie (Keith, that is), and would fit right in on the next Who tour (listen up, Pete and Roger).
It was a night to reminisce and be nostalgic of an era that changed music. To see both bands still performing at the same level – or maybe higher – is reassuring.