Blondie at The Roundhouse, London, gig review: One glorious, eternal party with a band who feel like family

Debbie Harry exudes a warmth and charm that is utterly delightful to witness

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The Independent Culture

Debbie Harry rocks up to the stage in a makeshift black dress that reads: “Stop f***ing the planet” on the front in silver glitter, sunglasses, a headband adorned with giant furry bees, and shiny gold trainers.

“Is this the Roundhouse?” she asks the crowd. “OK.”

As Blondie open on “One Way or Another”, the atmosphere in London is like some raucous family gathering. Maybe it’s the cheerfulness of their music, that carefree, effortlessly cool vibe that they master even now, or maybe it’s that the crowd are taken aback by how good Harry sounds.

Caught in the red glow of the stage lights, dancing around Chris Stein as he plays a solo in that same, slightly robotic, comical-yet-sexy way she did 40 years ago, she exudes a warmth and charm that is utterly delightful to witness: the way she delivers those lyrics is both seductive and disdainful.

They’ve put together a perfect setlist, one that tests some of the material off their new album Pollinator but doesn’t force it on the audience. So you have “Fun”, a poppy, disco-infused jam that saw the band work with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, and “Gravity”, which was written by Charli XCX.

The latter’s own music may fall more into the pop category but she’s a true punk at heart – you can see that from her live shows – and it’s clearly something the band has spotted as well. It may not be one of the strongest tracks on Pollinator, but it fits. 

Purists may struggle to accept the extensive list of guest features and contributions on this record, but rest assured that it sounds like nothing other than Blondie. And other than those few songs off the album, it’s a setlist dominated by the hits. 

“Rapture” is one glorious, eternal psychedelic party – Harry seems to stumble on the rap but recovers quickly, and there’s a tribal kind of protectiveness from the audience that would forgive her any manner of sins – especially when the band suddenly breaks out into the Beastie Boys' “Fight For Your Right To Party”.

Crooning a beautiful rendition of “In The Flesh”, Harry then steps to the side of the stage and watches on as Tommy Kessler breaks into an insane shredding session for “Atomic”.

There are so many great moments, so many superb songs, that by the time Blondie close their encore with “Maria” the whole thing is over far too soon. Dazed audience members drift slowly out of the venue, sad to leave the party, but happy with the assurance that Blondie are forever.