PROOF — IF proof were now needed — of Blondie’s vast potential was provided in full during Sunday night’s gig at the Roundhouse, London’s answer to the Black Hole Of Calcutta.
Apart from the obvious musical talents of the band, the commercial success that Blondie are on the verge of achieving could be gauged from the kind of audience — an interesting blend of hardcore punks, new-wave fringe elements, and out-and-out hard-rock freaks, the same sort of cross-section that pushed the Stranglers into the rock and roll mainstream.
Their obvious major asset is the style with which Deborah Harry carries off her role as front person. Appearing slightly awkward and overawed (a ploy, perhaps, to suck us into the Dumb Blonde syndrome), she still holds her audience in a way few recent singers can rival.
That, of course, may be down to the fact that she looks the sort of stuff great wet dreams are made of, but it’s truer to say that she exudes real stage presence. Her voice, too, is strong, no matter what anybody says.
But her success is relative to the abilities of the band. Drummer Clem Burke is a rhythm section in himself, and keyboards’ player Jimmy Destri has been instrumental in Blondie’s massive leap forward from the first to the second album, although I do feel he could be even more effective on stage; while guitarist Chris Stein turned in a couple of breathtaking solos, though the mix never favoured either Stein or second guitarist Frank Infanti until the second half of the set.
Blondie swept through the Roundhouse set with the gusto of Hurricane Bertha, and sometimes the speed was a little disconcerting. They should learn to pace themselves a bit more.
Anyway, from the cloud of dust left in the wake of Blondie, ‘Cautious Lip’ stands out as one of the fiercest cuts, along with ‘Detroit 442’ and the bopping ‘Kidnapper’. Pop came to the fore with ‘In The Sun’, ‘X Offender’ and ‘You Look Good In Blue’, while the encore, a cover version of the New York Dolls’ ‘Jet Boy/Jet Girl’, brought the set to a suitably powerful end.
Advertising and the Boyfriends helped make bearable the overcrowded conditions of the Roundhouse. Both are above-average power pop bands but require more consistent material. Apparently, they’re touring together soon. It might be a good gig to catch.
© Harry Doherty, Melody Maker, 11 March 1978