Blondie & Garbage at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts by Michael Martinez
The Rage and Rapture Tour
July 29, 2017
The pairing of punk / new wave innovators Blondie with power pop / alt-rock masters Garbage for the Rage and Rapture Tour seemed like the perfect concert for someone who at different times in their lives has had crushes on the singers in both groups. I fell for both Debbie Harry and the music of Blondie when I was a kid. Along with the Talking Heads and The Ramones, Blondie took punk rock out of New York’s Lower East Side and bought it to concert stages and radio stations across the globe. With the release of their acclaimed third album Parallel Lines, Blondie not only conquered international airwaves but created a pop/punk masterpiece that still sounds amazing today. Garbage sparked my interest when I first saw their videos on MTV, Shirley Manson had a great voice and the band seemed to unite dirty hard rock with a radio – friendly style. The group also featured producer / drummer Butch Vig, the producer who helmed Nirvana’s masterpiece Nevermind. In addition to the love of the bands was the fact that the tour hit one of the coolest music venues in New York, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Garbage played a thrilling fifteen song set that included most of their hits and new songs from their current release Strange Little Birds. One of the great things about Garbage live is their ability to deliver their power pop songs with a harder edge. Highlights of the set included “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)”, “Special”, “Stupid Girl’, and the hit “Only Happy When It Rains.” Another highlight was the romantic and haunting James Bond film theme song “The World Is Not Enough.” Towards the end of the set Manson took time out to state what an honor it was to play with Debbie Harry who is an inspiration to the female singers who have followed her in the music business. I appreciated her words and genuine feeling behind them.
Blondie hit the stage with Debbie Harry dressed in black with two large furry bees attached to her head. The band opened with rousing renditions of “One Way Of Another” and “Hanging On The Telephone”, two classic tracks from Parallel Lines. It was clear from the start that the band which included original members Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke were in great shape. One thing that I admire about the band then and now was how well Blondie play live. The band’s setlist didn’t include any deep cuts or tracks from their first two albums but it did offer their classic hits “Rapture” and the disco classic “Heart of Glass.” The songs from Blondie’s new album Pollinator were played with the same passion as the classic Blondie songs. The set closed with the reggae infused hit “The Tide Is High” and “Dreaming.”
The Rage and Rapture Tour at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is at the top of my list for best concert this summer.