I got to see Blondie perform at the Peppermill Concert Hall in Wendover, Nevada on August 29, 2009. It’s the first time I’ve been to a concert at the Peppermill Concert Hall which has been booking major acts for some time now. I had heard a lot of good things about the Peppermill Concert Hall so I was looking forward to checking out the venue.
The Peppermill Concert Hall really did live up to the hype. It is a small theater and every seat in the house has an excellent view of the very large stage. I was really surprised at how well laid out the stage and seating were. Like I said, the stage is very large and Blondie had a lot of extra space on each side of the stage. A performer with a larger stage show could easily set up on that stage. Alice Cooper is coming there in October so I may just pop out there and see him. It would be interesting to see how much of a stage show he sets up in a venue like the Peppermill. He has had some legendary stage shows.
Another thing I liked about the Peppermill Concert Hall was the in-house video feeds. There are two large-screen video monitors on each side of the stage and the venue had several cameras set up to show close-ups of the performers while they were playing. The sound was excellent as well with a full rock sound of crystal clear drums and guitars with solid, thumping bass. I must say I was very impressed with the Peppermill Concert Hall.
Blondie has been touring all summer and Deborah Harry informed us that this was their 3rd to the last show of the tour. Being as this is so late in the tour Blondie is as tight a live band as you’ll hear. That being said, their opening number was the Blondie classic “Call Me” and it sounded quite uninspired. I was a little worried that we were going to see a low-effort show but I think they were just getting warmed up because when they kicked into the next song, “Hanging On The Telephone”, the band really picked up the energy.
The band overall sounded very good with the playing tight and concise. There were three original Blondie members at this show. Deborah Harry, Guitarist (and leader) Chris Stein and Drummer Clem Burke. They also had Leigh Foxx on bass, Matt Katz-Bohen on Keyboards and Paul Carbonara on guitar. The strength of this band is the drumming of Clem Burke. He is an extremely energetic and accurate drummer. His playing on this night was simply excellent! His drums sounded fantastic and he really pushed the band through all the songs. Clem looked really well too.
Chris Stein is a primary songwriter and leader of Blondie. His playing on this night was good and he’s a decent guitarist. His real strength is in his leadership and songwriting role but he played his guitar parts well. He’s not shy about issuing orders to the band while they’re playing and I’ve heard he can really bring the fight to an argument. Chris is starting to show his age with how he holds himself onstage.
The face and voice of Blondie is, of course, Deborah Harry. Debbie sounded very good on this night. Her voice still sounds young and strong even at age 64. It’s honestly surprising when you see her to realize that she is 64 years old. She carries herself young and let’s face it, she rocks! She really threw herself into the songs and stretched out quite a bit vocally on some of the improvisations. It was really nice to hear that she can still sing very, very well. In the close-up shots you can see that she is getting older but if you listen and watch her on stage, she is still strong and vibrant. It was actually very inspiring to see an aging rocker still belting it out!
Paul Carbonara is a fine guitarist as well and really carried the guitar parts for all the songs. Chris and Paul make a great double guitar attack with Paul bringing the youth and fiery playing to the show. Matt Katz-Bohen and Leigh Foxx carried the keyboard and bass parts well throughout the night. Matt doesn’t have a lot of soul in his keyboard playing but he played what needed to be there. His solo’s were a bit weak though. Leigh played rock solid bass and even took a good bass solo.
The musical highlights of the show, for me, happened whenever the band decided to stretch out and try new things. They did a version of “Rapture” which turned into a very extended jam and combined it with the song “No Exit”. I loved the fact that the band is still trying new things with Debbie doing a new rap section. You have to remember that “Rapture” brought Rap music to mainstream middle America when Blondie released the song in 1980 and it opened the door for the rap explosion of the 80’s. This night it sounded fresher than ever with Blondie stretching it out and experimenting with the song. They also combined “The Tide Is High” with “I’ll Take You There” to great effect.
Some other highlights of the show happened during the encore. When Blondie came back out onstage, Debbie Harry announced that August 29th was the anniversary of The Beatles last concert performance as well as Michael Jackson’s Birthday. They proceeded to play The Beatles “Please, Please Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”. They did an excellent job on both songs and the crowd really ate it up. They also threw in a New Wave, Blondie style version of the Celine Dion hit “My Heart Will Go On” which was lighthearted and a lot of fun.
There was one nailbiting moment when an audience member made it past security and ran onstage making it all the way to Deborah Harry. Debbie was right in the middle of a song when the deranged fan ran onstage causing Debbie to curl to protect herself while the fan gave Debbie a bearhug and professed undying love for her. Deborah was visibly flustered when security got the fan away from her and I wouldn’t have blamed her if she would have stopped the show right there. But, like a true professional, she collected herself and continued on and finished the show. That was very sloppy security on The Peppermill’s part and I’m sure somebody got in serious trouble for that slip-up.
When the night ended, Debbie said “Thank you, it was fun!” the band took a bow and left the stage. It was a very good show and the arena was comfortable with great sound. The Peppermill had better do a better job protecting their performers or the good shows will stop coming there. If you get the chance to see Blondie on tour, do it!