LIVE REVIEW: Deborah Harry at Fillmore 12/9/2007
Sometime in the mid-1990s, I saw an ad for Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland having Debbie Harry play with a group called Jazz Passengers. By the time I found out about the show, it was sold out, and I was bummed. Blondie was one of the first pop bands I liked in the late 1970s (my parents listened to classical music religiously, and my pop exposure was limited), and their break up in the 1980s looked permanent. Miraculously, Blondie reunited in 1999 and I had a chance to see them at the Fillmore and Warfield, as well as Wente Vineyards out in Livermore.
When I noticed that Debbie Harry would be at the Fillmore December 9 for a solo show, I tried to rally my girlfriend, another big Blondie fan who never had a chance to see the band live.
“Is she going to do Blondie stuff?” was girlfriend’s first question. “I doubt it,” I replied. “I think she has a new album out, and she has quite a bit of solo material from the ’80s.”
“Hmmmm,” girlfriend replied. “I’m not sureâ€¦”
So we went, but with an open mind. Turns out it was a great call. Sunday’s Fillmore show was Harry’s last of a national club tour to promote her new record, Necessary Evil. I still haven’t heard the album, but the material she played from it on Sunday sounded great. Harry, 62, has never sounded better, and can still rally the party like its Studio 54 back in the day. Her newest single “Two Times Blue” is a contemporary, classy, and well crafted to Harry’s soaring vocals.
Whereas the New Wave singles Blondie fused punk, pop, and a dash of reggae and hip hop, Harry’s solo material is from the mid 80sâ€” a fusion of Thompson Twins style pop and synthetic disco. It holds up remarkably well, especially, “French Kissin’ in the USA,” and “I Can See Clearly Now.” The punkish “School For Scandal” brought back memories of the Ramones, as did the encore track, “You’re Too Hot”, a new song with a great “Rip Her to Shreds” vibe. Another major highlight was “Rush, Rush” a single off the 1983 Scarface soundtrack (I believe it’s playing when Michelle Pfeiffer does her coked-out disco dance). Harry even threw in two Blondie classics, “The Tide is High” and “Heart of Glass,” performed in lovely, acoustic rearrangements.
The show ran just under two hours, and an almost full house poured out of the Fillmore in quite a giddy state. My girlfriend and I were pleasantly surprised, and I got the feeling the rest of the crowd had their expectations exceeded as well.