Blondie goes ‘Atomic’ with show at Anthem in DC

The iconic pop-punk band is back on the road and delighting fans

Blondie brought down the house with their hits at the Anthem in DC on Sunday, August 21st. Blondie took the stage sans guitarist Chris Stein, who has retired from touring for the time being due to health issues.

Opening with “X Offender,” lead singer Debbie Harry and company demonstrated what kind of night it was going to be: one full unironic of pop-punk nostalgia. The opening phone bleats of “Hanging on the Telephone” elicited loud screams from the crowd.

Backed by a hypnotic light show almost as transcendent as Blondie’s music, the band was dressed in colors that attributed to the bright onstage aesthetic. Barbie-bright pinks and royal blues, magenta purples, and a pair of sunglasses or two gave off a summery vibe right out of the Dream House itself. Harry, “Blondie” herself, ageless in voice and appearance, was dressed head-to-toe in a shimmering flamingo pink as she strutted about the stage.

Even though the proud Miami-born New Yorker may herself be a “woman of a certain age,” like many of her male and female rock counterparts, that has not impacted her performance one bit. She can still reach the highest high notes on “Heart of Glass,” or access a deep rhythm for a rap break on “Rapture.” Every decade from the 70’s through the 90’s (“Atomic”) up through their most recent release in 2017 (“Long Time”) was represented.

Of course, the set closed with a rousing “One Way or Another.” The whole place seemed to thump in unison while shout-whispering, “I’m gonna getcha, I’ll getcha…getcha, getcha, getcha” and reached a fever pitch as the chorus spilled into the titular line.

The show itself offered a time capsule to an era when punk was just crossing over to the mainstream. Blondie did this by mixing in grungier elements with an infectious pop groove that disguised the harder edge. In doing so, Blondie brought punk to an audience that has never abandoned them. That much was clear at the Anthem, where fans old and young were adorned in the uniform of the punk fan. That is, black concert Tee, ripped jeans, and maybe some black lipstick or green hair.

If there was a place to feel comfortable letting one’s punk flag fly, it was at this show. Blondie fostered a welcoming and loving environment in the crowd. It was clearly a night of freedom, as Ms. Harry pointed out during the 1979 hit, “Dreaming.” “Dreaming is free, and we are free!” she exclaimed.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.