TVD Live Shots: Blondie and The Damned at the Masonic, 5/17

Benefiting from the previous weekend’s Cruel World festival in Pasadena, San Francisco got a special spillover visit from Blondie with support from The Damned where The Masonic Auditorium was packed to the rafters.

The Damned kicked things off with “Wait for the Blackout” which got their fans up front moving around before kicking into a mellower groove.  Greatly missed from the evening’s show was Captain Sensible who chose to sit out these handful of shows, but Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens Of The Stone Age) proved to be an excellent replacement minus the on-stage antics that fans of the Captain have come to expect.

The Damned is a rare case of a band that only seems to get better with age. With Paul Gray back on the bass and new drummer Will Taylor behind the drum kit, the bottom end is as tight and heavy as it’s ever been, giving Vanian plenty of space to wow, although he always seems to overdress for a performance, gradually removing layers throughout the set as the room (and the crowd) heated up, reaching a peak for “Love Song” and continuing through to the set closer, “New Rose.”

While The Damned clearly left a mark on The Masonic, it was pretty obvious that most of the fans were here to see Blondie and when the band finally strolled out on the stage people lost their minds. A quick glance at the Blondie lineup and you may have been surprised to see none other than Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols fame filling in on bass for Chris Stein.

While it maybe convenient to write Blondie off as a nostalgia act, nothing could be further from the truth. The band has been active since reactivating in 1997 and has since released 5 albums. Now 76, Debbie Harry looks and sounds great and Clem Burke (who recently played The Masonic with The Go-Go’s) is an absolute beast on drums.  Augmented with some younger talent like absolute shredder Tommy Kessler on guitar and Matt Katz-Bohen on keys, and you’ve got yourself an amazing show.

And an amazing show it was. The crowd hung on Debbie’s every word and literally lost their shit at the slightest actions like when she simply took her sunglasses off. While Harry appeared to be relying on a teleprompter for lyrics for the new material, the muscle memory seemed to kick in on the original tunes giving her a bit more freedom to move around the stage starting with an epic rendition of “Rapture” through to the double whammy encore of “Call Me” and “One Way or Another,” which they amped up to a frenetic pace before closing the set and taking a blow.

THE DAMNED

BLONDIE SETLIST
X Offender
Hanging on the Telephone (The Nerves cover)
Sunday Girl
Picture This
Fade Away and Radiate
The Tide Is High (The Paragons cover)
What I Heard
Atomic
(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear
Shayla
Union City Blue
Long Time
My Monster
Rapture
Maria
Dreaming
Heart of Glass

ENCORE
Call Me
One Way or Another

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