September 21, 2011 | by Steve Fox
Blondie brings ’80s punk to Fillmore

When Blondie band members walked off of the stage before their encore at The Fillmore in Silver Spring on Tuesday night, there was no question that ’80s nostalgia reigns and Debbie Harry sits at the throne.

Blondie, originally formed by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein in the 1970s, has its roots in the New York punk scene. The band delivered hits such as “Call Me,” “One Way or Another,” “Dreaming” and “Atomic.” With each performance, it became obvious how much today’s younger artists are still influenced by the sounds and rhythms of the punk era. Strong riffs, solid drums and powerful-yet-playful lyrics. See Lady Gaga’s album, “Born This Way.”

Harry seemed right at home at the new Fillmore in Silver Spring. It’s a soaring new space that combines all of the best elements of the 9:30 Club with some modern upgrades and conveniences. “This song here is for all of the beautiful girls in Maryland,” Harry said as the band launched into a swirling delivery of their 1999 hit, “Maria.”

Throughout the set, Blondie performed a few numbers from their new UK-released CD, “Panic of Girls.” A surprise highlight of the evening was “Horizontal Twist” a bonus track and runaway hit off of the album. The song is classic Blondie with heavy guitar, synth and campy lyrics delivered Debbie Harry style. Delivering the fabulous guitar playing throughout the evening was Tommy Kessler, a young player and a recent addition to the touring Blondie. Kessler has also performed on Broadway in “Rock of Ages.” This is not the last we will see of this talent.

Perhaps the best number of the evening was the incredibly passionate and fun delivery of “Rapture.” Through her enthusiastic performance, Debbie Harry reminded us why this was the first rap song to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The band played in the genre even further, mashing the hit with the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right.” Good stuff.

Part of the encore was the crowd-pleasing “Heart of Glass.” Harry sounded great and interacted with the audience throughout the number, encouraging them to help her sing the harmony.

Noticeably missing from the evening was “The Tide is High” and personal favorites like “In the Flesh” and “Sunday Girl.”

The only dud element of the night was Harry’s bewildering clothing selections. She delivered the first numbers in the set dressed in a colonial-era military jacket tightly fit over a protruding taffeta wedding dress. Hiding behind sunglasses, it appeared that time had caught up with the singer. Much to my relief, Harry removed the peculiar costume elements to reveal what I was anticipating from the start: a black leotard, mini-skirt and wide belt. That’s the Harry I remember and that’s the look that matches the nostalgia and familiar hits that everyone enjoyed at the Fillmore.

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