“Hello Halifax…Blondie Calling!”: Blondie at The Piece Hall

09/06/2024

Alexandra Pullen reviews the performance of rock legends Blondie at The Piece Hall

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Image by Rhodes Media 

By Alexandra Pullen

What a dream come true it was to see one of the greatest rock bands of all time! Blondie kicked off this summer’s run of shows at The Piece Hall in Halifax on Friday 7 June, and they certainly started it with a bang. The first of their two shows at the venue saw a really varied crowd of all ages enjoying some of the well-known, classic hits including ‘Call Me’ and ‘Heart of Glass’.

The Piece Hall is a wonderful venue, and was also complimented by frontwoman of the band Debbie Harry: “I can’t believe we’ve never played here before. It’s quite beautiful.” I had been told by family members that I would enjoy it, and I have to agree with Harry, as the venue’s layout means that wherever you may be stood or seated, the view will be good.

Our night began with the support act Starsailor, a post-Britpop band, formed in 2000 in Warrington. Although I wasn’t familiar with their music, lead vocalist James Walsh had an incredible voice and really warmed the crowd up for a night of great music. He said it was an honour to be back in Halifax, after supporting Embrace last summer, and hoped that there was a potential crossover between fans of Embrace and Blondie. The band went on to play some of their most popular songs such as ‘Alcoholic’ and ‘Silence Is Easy’.

Now it was time for the main act, and it only started to sink in that I was going to see some of my all-time favourite songs performed live during this break. We waited in anticipation as the instruments were switched out, the set list was stuck to the side of the drum kit, and the Starsailor logo disappeared from the big screen, which was replaced by TV static while Debbie Harry and the rest of Blondie strutted onto the stage.

They began with ‘One Way Or Another’ before transitioning into the sound of a phone ringing, and everyone knew what was next: “Hello Halifax…This is Blondie calling!” Harry greeted us before romping into ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ and ‘Sunday Girl’. With the first three songs coming from their 1978 album Parallel Lines, it was time to switch things up with another telephone-themed track of theirs, ‘Call Me’. I have to say for the first few songs it seemed that Debbie Harry’s microphone was too quiet, or maybe she was just warming up, but it was a struggle to hear her at some points.

‘Living in the Real World’ was next, which the band hadn't played live since 1998, followed by ‘Will Anything Happen?’ to build up to a crowd and personal favourite, ‘Atomic’. The stage lit up with a flood of green along with hazard symbols flashing on the screen behind the band. While previously seen in a black and white suit, with black sunglasses on, Harry changed into a white leather jacket and took her glasses off for a few songs, which really allowed us to connect with her while she waved to the crowd.

A standout during this performance was the unbelievable guitar solo by Tommy Kessler which closed the song. Harry took this as an opportunity to introduce us to the rest of the band: Tommy Kessler and Andy ‘Brown Sugar’ on guitar; Glen Matlock, former member of the Sex Pistols, on bass; and Clem Burke on drums. Harry and Burke are the only original members of the band, because guitarist Chris Stein couldn’t take part of the tour due to health issues.

The class rock bangers didn’t end here, though! Harry was able to show that she still has it at the age of 78 with her rap in ‘Rapture’ before going into ‘The Tide Is High’.With the beginning of every song came a collective cheer from the crowd as everyone realised how many amazing songs Blondie were playing for us. The lead singer took a moment to check whether everyone was feeling refreshed after receiving a “blessing from the rain”.

Blondie closed their set with ‘Maria’, and perhaps their most popular song ‘Heart of Glass’, which had elements of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’ embedded into it. The band left the stage and people looked around, uncertain as to whether or not to expect an encore, but we did indeed get one! The penultimate track was ‘Dog Star Girl’, one of Debbie Harry’s solo songs; the lines “And how'd I ever get to this dead man's town where the rain/Where the rain falls down where the rain falls down forever?” were met with a sudden downpour but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the audience.

‘Dreaming’ ended the night, which was the perfect set closer. Harry, after repeating the final lyrics of the song, urged the crowd to hold onto the fact that “dreaming is free” and expressed that “you [the fans] are my dream.” She closed with a simple wish of “sweet dreams” for everyone in The Piece Hall.

TK Maxx presents Live at The Piece Hall has already broken records for ticket sales with more than 170,000 tickets sold across the series. Outside of events in London and the south coast, only Glastonbury and Liverpool’s Anfield stadium will welcome more gig goers to outdoor shows in England between June and August – confirming The Piece Hall as one of the nation’s leading live music venues.

The series continues tonight with Blondie with support from The K’s, followed on Thursday by Sheryl Crow, then Annie Mac and Nile Rodgers & Chic next weekend.

Final tickets are on sale now via ticketmaster.co.uk