Blondie/Garbage play ACL Live at the Moody Theater this Friday, August 11, 2017 • Get Tickets Here
There might not be a stranger friendship in rock and roll than that of rock icon Debbie Harry, of Blondie fame, and Shirley Manson, front woman of the gritty post 90s band, Garbage. Twenty years separates the start of both bands, with Blondie garnering the 1970s and 80s spotlight thanks to now-classics like “Call Me,” “Heart of Glass,” and “Rapture,” while Garbage ruled the 1990s and early 2000s airwaves with hits like “Only Happy When It Rains,” “Stupid Girl,” and “When I Grow Up.” Times changed in those two decades. They saw the rise and fall of disco, as well as the excesses of the 80s and early 90s influence what people listed to. Rap music was born in that gap between Harry and Manson, proving that musical tastes have changed, and so has what people define as music, itself.
Luckily, though, rock and roll – for all its different iterations and random one-hit-wonders – essentially, has not. And, once you witness Harry and Manson together, whether in interviews and studio collaborations or on stage together, the strangeness disappears entirely. They both speak fluent rock and roll, and the years between their emergence on the music scene may be the only thing that makes their pairing an odd one.
It might be easy to discount the contributions of the band, Blondie, to rock and roll’s DNA. They can get tossed into most people’s definition of 70s music, surrounded by disco balls, roller rink anthems and canned sounds. But a closer listen reveals something altogether different. Live instruments, a driving guitar rhythm and the unmistakable wail of Debbie Harry’s lead vocals all create a straight-up rock band that has maintained that energy and raw edge for decades. Listen even closer and you’ll hear the undercurrent of rebellious punk that paces cagily beneath nearly every song. The band is deeply embedded in rock and influences the ever-changing world around them.
Their success certainly resonated with young women, many who adopted their songs as anthems and Harry’s defiant voice as a rallying cry. Through the 70s and 80s, the band stayed in the public eye, until they upheld one of rock and roll’s oldest traditions – they broke up.
The music persisted and called them back in the late 90s, and they converted a new generation of acolytes as they re-emerged in the early 2000s, charting yet again with “Maria.” Theirs is a clean rock and roll sound, and it has resonated, no matter what decade it finds an audience within. And it shines, to this day, through even a casual listen of Blondie’s new album, “Pollinator.” Harry and the band took on collaborations with those whose music they had no doubt inspired, as modern names like Charlie XCX, TV on the Radio and Sia all lent their talents to writing for their heroine. Their influence – far, wide, loud and not close to over – is clear.
That influence isn’t lost on this Friday night’s other headliner act. Shirley Manson, Scottish-born lead singer of Garbage, routinely points to Debbie Harry and Blondie as influential on how she fronts a band. And, from the moment Garbage hit the scene, it’s obvious that the sound echoes in the tracks, as well. The heirs apparent to the punk throne, Garbage established that a siren’s wail, backed by soaring guitars and a driving beat will never go out of fashion. Manson’s first meeting with Blondie, however, didn’t have any of the confidence and swagger that shows up on stage. In a well-documented tale, she confesses that she shied away from the heroine, upon first meeting her, proving that it’s never easy to meet one’s idols.
That fear is now gone. After working together on tours and in the media, the two stand tall and proud on the same stage, occasionally making cameos in one another’s sets, and continuing the rich heritage of rock and roll goddess stardom. Continents and years and ages apart, the two make a stirring case for the immortality of genuine rock and roll. Long may it live.
To witness two rock goddesses on the same stage for their “Rapture and Rage Tour,” get your tickets for their Friday performance at ACL Live at the Moody Theater today.