Punk Rock enthusiasts and New Wave addicts gathered at the Greek Theater September 12, 2012 to watch two legendary acts team up on tour. Devo and Blondie are living proof that you’re never too old to be a Punk Rocker after a sold out crowd left more pumped than they came in. Devo sounded brilliant and performed like it was the dying wish of one of the audience members. When Blondie graced the stage it emphasized why the blonde bombshell Debbie Harry, Blondie frontwoman, was one of my idols in the first place. She strutted her bad ass self up and down the stage wearing sunglasses having fun and sounding great.
Devo opened the show with a gamut of hits adding new music from their latest album (2010) Something For Everyone. For some reason I kept thinking of a rare Kraftwerk show I caught in 2003 at the Gleason Theater [now the Filmore] back in Miami. I’ve heard people describe Devo’s stage presence and performance as unforgettable and now after seeing them, I have to agree. This performance left me wanting more, so much so, I went home and listened to their catalogue beginning in 1977.
The energy in the crowd permeated off the stage in a wave of contagion complete with visual effects that captivated the audience, peppered with some narrative storytelling while the crowd anxiously awaited for a few quick wardrobe changes. What they will play next? I expected a sea of Devo superfans wearing energy dome hats clad in hazmat jumpsuits but instead I noticed more bald men jumping up and down to early punk hits like “Uncontrollable Urge” and “Gate of Steel.”
Not sure if Devo gets the credit they deserve for being versatile and talented musicians as well as innovative performance artists inspired by 70s/80s pop art from the Warhol era. Mark Mothersbaugh and bandmates looked like they were enjoying themselves as much as the crowd was playing hits like, (“I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “DEVO Corporate Choice,” “Girl You Want,” “Freedom of Choice,” “Mongoloid,” “Secret Agent Man,” and of course “Whip It.” In the last decade or two, frontman Mark Mothersbaugh has been the go to guy to score some of television and film’s favorite projects, from Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaum’s” to Showtime’s “Enlightened,” with no end in sight, especially after hearing the recent announcement of the band’s first official authorized documentary to be released in 2013.
After a thirty minute bathroom break, beverage refill and pitstop to the merch booth, it was finally time to experience (again) the queen of punk/ new wave and first lady to rap in a song and music video (how can we forget the 12 minute version of Rapture?) Personal side note: last time I saw her perform was twenty three years ago when I was eleven when she opened for Tears for Fears during their Sowing the Seeds tour. My mother took me. Debbie Harry, the vixen (now in her late sixties) walked on stage sporting her famous platinum blonde coif in a style one could only describe as an ode to her Hairspray character combined with the hairdo of choice for 80s band Flock of Seagulls. She opened with “Dreaming” then went right into my personal favorite “Hanging On the Telephone.” Debbie Harry was all punk, ‘tude and glam, from her shiny gold coat to her outspoken “fuck them” attitude on relationships chiming in between a few of her hits; “Call Me”, “Atomic”, “Rapture”, and “One Way or Another.” She covered Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” beautifully and gave a shout out to her hometown New York City, enticing a little crowd participation, chanting the chorus to Beastie Boy’s classic “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” I imagine this was a tribute to the late and great MCA…much respect. A few tracks from their new album D-Day, “Love Doesn’t Frighten Me,” “Mother” and “Wipe of My Sweat” were sprinkled through a mostly nostalgic driven set list which also included a Frankie Goes to Hollywood cover of “Relax” before ending the night with “Heart of Glass.”
In their sixties, Blondie and Devo show no signs of stopping or even yielding with unshakeable staying power reiterating the cliche that age is just a number. Now if we could only resurrect Joey Ramone for the ultimate trifecta of punk rock royalty. Make note people: Punk Rock is still alive and kicking.