Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blondie - Gorvette -- State Theater - Sep 8 2010

Gorevette - We begin with a four piece featuring a guy on drums and three colorfully dressed women on guitar, bass and vocals. They kick it in with crunchy power-pop-punk chords and seem to have it together. As they continue, they don't take a whole lot of breaks and really nail their beginnings and endings keeping the momentum building. The guitarist is quite good and she has a touch of that Billy Zoom rockabilly, old-school rock mixed in to her style. Zoom showed how well that can work in a punk band like X and it works here. The rhythm section is locked in and the singer is good, although her voice disappears in the mix some. They cover the Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get", the Knack's "Good Girls Don't", and a Saints cover song (done Saints style) "Wild About You". No nonsense, tight hard hitting catchy punk-pop. What is not to like? I even read that they are from Detroit and work with Denniz Tek! Odd that they would cover the Saints and not Birdman, but that's no problem for me. I really was not sure at the start of this set, but was convinced by the end and the crowd gave them great props. Nice job.

Blondie - Is seeing this legendary band for the first time going to be better than seeing Akron/Family for the fourth time? That is the question for me tonight. I did enjoy Blondie back in the day and played them on my punk radio show that I had in 1979-80. But they always seemed pretty straight for the CBGBs scene, but had a nice style with catchy songs. I was happy enough for them with their mainstream success and I would always keep their songs on the radio, even if my records and cassettes were playing a lot tougher and wilder bands. Well, tonight we have three originals, Debbie Harry (of course), Chris Stein and Clem Burke. Burke looks the youngest of the bunch and I liked seeing the CBGBs t-shirt he had on. Stein wore shades the entire time, while Harry took hers off after 4 songs. He eyes looked a bit tired, but she still looks quite good, even with a belt that looked like something Ric Flair wore to the squared circle. And she is a lot older than her bandmates (Check out 1968's Wind in the Willows if you have not heard of that one). The band was rock solid and handled the pop hooks with plenty of power, really delivering a solid live set. The lead guitarist was good and he traded with Stein and even did a double lead once. The keyboardist actually brought out the Gary Wright style strapped on synthesizer/keyboard a couple times and used it well on "Call Me". They also covered all the hits I remembered. They did a four-song encore with a  nice Ramones cover, "Pet Sematary", then a Bowie cover "Heroes", a good rocker and "Heart of Glass". The crowd was jam packed and energized and easily sang along without much prompting. I also liked seeing so many women of all ages in the crowd in small groups of their own. It reminded me how important Deborah Harry was and is. All in all, this was a much better show than I expected and there was a very positive feeling tonight. I am still bummed about missing the Akron/Family, but this was the show to see tonight.

Story of the Night: Blondie played "Hanging on the Telephone" as their second song tonight. I lot of people may not realize this was a cover song from an LA power-pop/punk band, the Nerves (written and recorded only about 2 years prior to Blondie's version). Jack Lee was credited properly, but I learned a funny story from Nerves members courtesy of Jack Rabid's great magazine, The Big Takeover. The Nerves were struggling as all punk/new wave bands were trying to promote themselves with every trick they could think of (oh, those memories...). They were able to get a cassette or record of their songs through channels to Blondie in hopes they would like it and have them as opening band. It certainly made sense as both bands clearly mined the same territory and did it well. They got some feedback saying that the band thought it was the worst thing they had ever heard. Years later, one of the Nerves caught up with Blondie's manager and was just curious to see if that was actually a real quote, thinking that they were just being blown off. Unfortunately, it was true that the band actually had listened to the songs. Yet somehow one of them became a Blondie hit.

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