Archive for the ‘Blondie’ Category

Television Newcastle City Hall 23rd May 1977 and 10th April 1978

Television Newcastle City Hall 23rd May 1977 and 10th April 1978
television77tixMarquee Moon was one of those songs which seemed to follow me everywhere in 1977. The title track of Television’s highly acclaimed (and rightly so) debut album was on everyone’s playlist. If was so…. different from anything else at the time, and came from a different dimension to any of the more familiar variants of punk or new wave. No thrash, no poppy tune. Instead Marquee Moon had all the ingredients of great new music: Tom Verlaine’s extraordinary razor sharp edgy riffs, cutting in and out of the off-beat, and some seriously weird lyrics which were difficult to understand but seemed to tell some strange dark story. The rest of the album was equally as good, with great twin guitar work, an arty, precise, almost clinical feel and elements of classic rock. The critics loved it. Television’s line-up at the time was Tom Verlaine (guitar, vocals), Richard Lloyd (guitar), Fred Smith (bass) and Billy Ficca (drums). Television toured the UK with support from Blondie, playing at Newcastle City Hall on 23rd May 1977. There was a good turn out for the concert which drew punk, rock and pop fans.
Television23.5Although both bands hailed from the same New York new wave scene, they were musically and artistically very different and those differences came through in their performances that night. Blondie were on the cusp of massive success, and were bright, poppy, fast and lots of fun. Debbie Harry was amazing. In contrast Television were serious, distant, and simply played their (excellent) music with no particular light show and very little interaction with the audience. A great concert, with two contrasting bands both performing well.
Relations weren’t great between Television and Blondie on the tour. Blondie’s Chris Stein said that Television were “competitive” and recalled the Glasgow show where “all our equipment was shoved up at the Apollo and we had like three feet of room so that [Tom Verlaine] could stand still in this vast space.”
A 1977 Television setlist would be something like this: See No Evil, Friction, Venus, Prove It, Elevation, Marquee Moon, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
(Bob Dylan cover), Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover).
Television oic 2The Damned has a similar experience to Blondie when they played with Television. Brian James: “When we did that first American tour, we had a gig on the West Coast supporting Television. We got there and they said ‘We’re not letting this bunch support us’. We were stuck on a limb. We went down to see them and play and we had tee-shirts saying ‘Television are c**ts’. It really intimidated them. Captain wrote a song called ‘Idiot Box’ — like TV — about them.” “I can turn you off, Well I just tried & left you off
Tumbling you may be art, But you sure ain’t rock’n’roll
People standing in the rain, Just to see that screen Verlaine
Supersonic I’ll come back soon, ‘Cause all we got is a Marquee moon” (Idiot Box, The Damned)
televisiontix78Television returned to Newcastle City Hall on 10th April 1978. The hall was far from full, and much emptier than the previous year. Support this time was The Only Ones, Peter Perret’s great band. This was at their time of their excellent single Another Girl, Another Planet. Another big contrast between support and headliner. This was a lack lustre performance by Television. They spent some considerable time tuning up, ignoring the audience, to the extent that several people walked out. The feeling that came over was one of coldness and distance.
Sorry to leave my memories on a less than positive note. Television were an exceptional band, a breath of fresh air and the sound of Verlaine’s guitar on Marquee Moon cut through everything else around at the time.
Many thanks to Mitch for the photos which he took at the 1977 concert.

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Blondie Reunion Newcastle Arena 1999

Blondie Reunion Newcastle Arena 1999
So, some 19 years after I last saw Blondie at the City Hall, Ashleigh and I went to see the reformed band play at the Newcastle Arena. Ashleigh had, in the interim, been to see Debbie Harry when she performed at Sunderland Empire. The band had hit the charts with the single Maria and had released a new album No Exit. The concert was pretty good, as I recall, and the magic was still there. However, the sound was lost in the cavernous arena, and the venue was cold. Support came from Squeeze. Blondie have played a few times in the region since then, including a gig at Newcastle Academy which Laura attended. For me they are the perfect pop band, and bring back memories of nights out in the late 70s and early 80s.

Blondie Newcastle City Hall 1977, 1978, 1980

Blondie Newcastle City Hall 1977, 1978, 1980
I first saw Blondie when they appeared as support on the 1977 Television UK tour. They were the highlight of the evening; having just released their first album and the single X Offender. Debbie and the band were simply stunning, and quite a contrast to Television, who were also good, but much more serious. By the time they returned in 1978 they had hit the charts with Denis and Touched by your Presence Dear. That year saw the release of Plastic Letters and Parallel Lines, both excellent pop albums, and the hit singles just seemed to come again and again. Blondie were just untouchable as a live band and as a chart act in the late 70s and early 80s. The band were tight as anything, Debbie always looked stunning and sang great, and the set was crammed with catchy pop tunes. Their shows at the City Hall in 1978 and 1980 were both sell outs and great gigs. I also had tickets for a 1982 gig by Blondie at the City Hall. However the tour was cancelled as a result of Chris Stein’s ill health, and the band split shortly afterwards. Bootlegs exist of some of those early shows; one from 1978 shows the setlist as being the following: X Offender; Detroit 442; A Shark in Jet’s Clothing; In The Sun; Little girls lies; Denis; (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear; Fan Mail; Look Good in Blue; Rifle Rangle; In the flesh; Cautious Lip; Contact In Red Square; My Possession; I didn’t have the nerve to say no; Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45); Kidnapper – Rip Her To Shreds; Kung Fu girls; Funtime ( Iggy pop cover)