Slowly taking to the stage at 8:30 p.m., Harry took to the microphone in almost a shy, yet very sly, way. The band kicked up and as the stage lights illuminated Harry’s platinum blonde shag haircut in a way that nearly created a halo above her head, the singer began to belt out the 1979 hit “Call Me.”
The song got the audience excited and, although the Grand Sierra might have tried to keep fans in their floor seats, a rush to the stage could not be contained. The dance had begun.
Far from the days of the ’70s punk scene and playing in seedy bars, Blondie paid homage to the time period that made the band famous with a stage backdrop iconic of the era. The gray brick wall on the backdrop was graffiti painted on and a spray paint can had the words nearby that said “Graffiti is art.” Not a far from the spray can that looked like an Andy Warhol print, a fashion statement: “Stilettos are fab.”
Although Harry would not dance her fabulous self around the stage in stiletto heels, she did dance throughout the hour and a half set in the most fashionable pair of black ballet flats. Of course, the shoes are only an accessory to Harry’s zebra mod dress complete with saber tooth necklace. Between the hair, dress and necklace Harry’s cavewoman look seemed so her.
As she danced and sang from hit to hit, including “Atomic” and “One Way or Another,” Harry seemed completely content to show off the skills of her long-time guitarist, Chris Stein, who in the middle of “Rapture” was able to mix up the song’s mellow disco sound with an intricate blue melody breakdown.
Able to keep the crowd engaged and dancing throughout the night, Harry joked about winning money in the casino and asked the crowd if anyone else has success like she did.
“I have to brag a little because I won $29,” Harry chuckled, adding that a bandmate won a few thousand. “We felt so empowered we had to carry on throwing our money away.”
Performing “The Tide Is High,” Harry got the crowd involved with a small break in the song to sing lines of “I’ll Take You There,” most notably sung by the Staple Singers. Everything that Harry would hang the mic over the crowd to hear them sing “I’ll take you there!” Harry would ask questions: “Oh that’s nice,” she cooed. “Where are we going?” and finally “Well that’s not an answer” to which the crowd laughed with Harry.
Keeping the show lively and fun seemed right in step with the band Blondie has always been. When the band returned to the stage for a three-song encore, which included the obvious crowd favorite “Heart of Glass,” Blondie shocked the crowd by playing a punked out cover of the Titanic theme song “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion.
It was during “Heart of Glass” that a group of twenty-something boys jumped on stage to dance with Harry. She stood there and watched as the boys, in clashing neon shirts, performed what looked like some sort of seizure and laughed as security scrambled to herd the culprits.
“I thought I was going to get a little action for a minute there,” Harry said with a smile.
Although the boys were the only ones daring enough to get so close to Harry, the audience was in awe of the punk rock pioneer. Although times have changed, Blondie has been able to stay relevant, which was evident by the large age range of the band’s fans and of the members in the band.
Harry, who is 64, still has it. She sings. She dances. She cracks jokes. And although it is her interaction that keeps the audience so focused it is also her mystique. There is something about the way she moves and sings that is so effortless and innocent yet so shocking and forthright. It is as if in one minute Harry could be kissing you on the lips and in the next punching you in the mouth.
Blondie’s performance electrified the audience and even though it has been decades since the band performed at the famed CBGB’s in New York, they’ve still got it.