Stepping away from my UK trip to review a local concert I went to see at the OC Fair first.
Obviously the ticket doldrums are having an effect on the OC Fair shows, only about 2/3 of the house sold…and that’s with tickets bottoming out at 10.00
I bought mine yesterday on a whim.
I had the chance to see Blondie at Hop Farm in the UK and had opted instead to see Richard Thompson on the smaller stage. Thompson thanked us at the time for choosing 60’s dinosaur folk rock over 80’s dinosaur pop. So tonight I decided to see what I might have missed.
First up was 30 minutes of Gorevette. That was about 29 minutes past what their talent warranted. Basically a band of punk cliches looking for an audience…it wasn’t me.
A pinch of X, a dash of the Ramones, a hiccup of the Runaways and the Go-Go’s that amounted to….nothing. The most memorable song of the set was a karaoke bar bad version of “Goods girls don’t” by the Knack…seriously kids? You couldn’t even cover better Knack song? Wait, that’s sort of an oxymoron isn’t it?
My mind wandered to the mid 80’s when I saw X open for Oingo Boingo on this very stage….and I knew that I would never look back at this band 25 years later for any reason except a small footnote in my concert-going history.
On to Blondie.
A strong opening with “D-Day” leading into “Call Me” and then a surprisingly muscular version of “The Hardest Part” from their “Eat to the Beat” album (they were still called albums back then kids).
A couple of surprisingly good new songs led to “Maria”, which was also a surprise in that Debbie Harry’s voice was spot on. None of the ravages of age showing the way that I’ve heard in so many other aging rockers (cough, Roger Daltry, cough).
Next up was the first of a couple small mis-steps of the evening. The song “What I heard” was fine, but the guitar solo was a little too “Bon Jovi” for my taste. I mean Blondie is about whip smart pop with a punk edge. Tommy Kesslers solos all night edged toward the excess of the 80’s Sunset Strip and away from the raw CBGB sound that I associate with the band. Not a fatal error, but an error to me nonetheless.
All was forgiven as the band blasted into the hits….”Atomic”, “The tide is high” (with a nice snippet of I’ll take you there and Debbie doing a mean hula) and “Rapture”….then the first (maybe only?) clinker if the night when she just couldn’t climb the heights of “Call Me”. Not a horrible version, just a weak spot or two finally tipping us that despite her ageless look, she is honestly a woman in her 60’s…(in great shape and darn hot), but after a solid hour of singing she was unable to keep her voice quite as ageless as her looks.
The set wrapped with “One way or Another”, and then four encore songs…interesting less known choices that were highlighted by “Picture This” and then closing with “Heart of Glass”.
All in all, well worth the discounted ticket and spending an evening with a band that I’d never really had a chance to see before. As I walked out many seemed to agree, as I overheard numerous positive comments from the crowd around me.
Good show! (Well except for Gorevette it was a good show.)