All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Punk rockers Blondie and X arrived at The Keswick this past Thursday as part of the “No Principals” tour, and despite a name evoking a youth revolt against authority, the rockers present are nearing the other end of the age spectrum at nearly 60 (X frontman John Doe) and 70 (Blondie’s Debbie Harry). No matter the age and the dunce cap prop (which looked closer to a witch’s hat, October appropriate for sure) that Doe and Harry wore at the beginning of their respective sets, they both rocked. The tour that has taken them to many other seated venues, like Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and while it’s a strange fit, Blondie succeeded in raising the nearly sold-out crowd to its feet for most of the show.
X’s opening set, using gigantic overhead screens filled with television color bars and other retro static images, was filled with their mostly 2-3 minute fast-paced songs. The original lineup of lead guitarist and singer John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake blasted through a set drawn from their first four albums. Entering the stage to some of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western strings, they launched into the first track from their first album, Los Angeles, “Your Phone’s off the Hook, But You’re Not.” The crowd was mostly seated for the entire set, save when Debbie Harry joined them for “Breathless.” Nonetheless, X still has fire in their veins.
Standing became a requirement when Blondie entered to the tune of “One Way or Another.” Harry and fellow founding members guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke, along with three newer bandmates, took the crowd on a hit parade journey that had the crowd singing along and dancing. Using the video screens to put a visual exclamation point on songs like “The Tide Is High” with the ebb and flow of water for all to see, Blondie certainly knew how to showcase all angles of their craft. Harry owned the stage, walking back and forth to the edges of the crowd, absorbing the love of fans that has been going strong for 30-plus years. And they were not afraid to showcase new works, with the encore beginning with the brand-new “Mile High,” a catchy song, but certainly not as memorable as their show-closer “Dreaming.” Blondie already was assuring another tour in greater support of their older material, so fans should not fret that this New York band’s staying power for years to come.