I am no man. Or rather, I am nowhere near enough of a "man" in the classical sense to say that I don't know more than the next average Joe. I will say this much: While Madonna can come into Ultra and press a couple of buttons on a free iPad (or whatever), myself and perhaps the most mixed crowd I've ever been privy to experience a concert with bore witness to a true musical experience last night at Hard Rock Live. (Like I always say, air your grievances in the comments section below.) I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Blondie play live this evening, and many things became apparent.
Here in the dying eve of the most overbloated "musical" conference on the planet, how do we move on? Easy. With class and an undying pop cultural icon. How else would you do it?
Without getting crazy and/or bogged down by the details, Blondie put on a true show, equal parts new material (which satisfies the band) and golden bits (which satisfy the fans).
I will be honest, I took it upon myself to enjoy a couple of drinks in the gorgeous outside weather of the Knight Time billiard hall adjacent to the Hard Rock Live while the supermixed crowd milled in. And let's hold palaver over this for a second. There were frilly haired vixens, overaged punk rockers, partial new wavers, two or three rejects of the original Hairspray, a few denizens of the "wrong turn" and many, many people who knew the lyrics and the time. These are all the right parameters that you want in place.
I can out myself as a fan as much as I want, but I will still be held to the mirror of those around me. Nothing wrong with that. So let's hold it for a quick second while I make an enormous heterosexual male observation: Debbie Harry was a beautiful woman back in the days that punk rock amalgam-ed itself with the disco scene, a veritable PR machine that made the scum OK, and while most would posit that time and gravity have their ways with people's lives, I will say this much: Debbie Harry, and Blondie moreover, continue to maintain and hold that torch of glamour and beauty that they pretty much lit way back when. (Eat your heart out, WMC/Ultra denizens, you fools of the parade who will not be around in ten years. Let alone five. But whatever. Let's test your real mettle; let's put your feet down on the metal; let us all laugh when you crash and burn.)
But let's be honest, let's be brutally honest.
Blondie put up a great show; energetic and punk rock, which to me is funny, especially since they suffered so much backlash back in the day from misguided heads. Their new wave take on disco is still better and more "real" than whatever the nearest hipster can muster. Case in point, the new 21 Jump Street flick and the little joke about hipsters in it. Is it an age thing? I don't know, and I don't care. I only know that the crowd got off their ass during "Call Me." And when the band went into "Rapture," understanding the weight of the quasi-rap in it. They went positively mother-of-pearls nuts when they segued it into a very adept cover of the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)." I almost thought shit was gonna get cray. And it did.
Usually in concerts of this caliber, you know that the band is contractually obligated to perform certain tracks, so I am fully happy of the 200 or 300 folks who got fooled into thinking that "One Way or Another" was their goodbye song. Really? Please! The Seminole Hard Rock Live might have some real rules as to how their acts "act," but if the lights do not come on, show ain't over. And they brought it. They brought it so hard, I better quit while I'm ahead. I might have eight years here with the sheriffs as a "loon" and "idiot," but I dare not compete with true royalty. I know when to quit.
On that note I'll say this much: The stage setup was frill-less, but not really, I realize that now; I realize that the stupid drapes behind the band were meant to satisfy one thing and one thing only: crown points. Crown points. Because if you didn't realize that Blondie is musical royalty when you came in, you do so now. From me, and solely from me (completely not associated with Blondie, their handlers and/or the Seminole Tribe): Ultra and WMC: Real people still love real music.
Set List (incomplete)
Hanging on the Telephone (The Nerves)
Cheap China Shoes
Rapture (with awesome Beastie Boys breakdown)
One Way or Another
Heart of Glass (and yes, everybody mumbled the words, myself included. Why not? Blondie has proven to stand the test of time; too disco for the punks, too punk for the cokeheads, too long-living for those who are no longer with us.)
Overheard in the crowd: "I think we're sitting next to a 'towel-head.'" (They were right, by the way, but even us Arabs love American new wave.)