“Sexy and 17” is an old Stray Cats hit from a generation ago. But what about sexy and 70? Debbie Harry is the answer to that question.
The lead singer of Blondie, 72, still looks and sounds great in her twilight years. Harry strutted around the World Cafe stage like a sex kitten during the NON-COMM music conference in Philly three months ago.
Her band remains impressive as well.
“We still love to play,” guitarist and songwriter Chris Stein says. “We’ve been around for years, but we still have that passion.”
And Harry still delivers a performance clinic, engaging the audience with a voice that hasn’t lost much over the years.
“Debbie is still amazing,” Stein says. “She still has it. I feel like we’re in our third act. If we do have another number one in the UK, we’ll be tied with the Bee Gees as the only acts to have number one hits there in four different decades. Can you believe that? That’s an incredible accomplishment.”
Another No. 1 hit isn’t such a crazy notion, either, since Stein and Harry really know how to write hits. Back in the 1970s and early ’80s, they penned such seminal cuts as “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “Dreaming” and “Rapture.” And they didn’t lose their touch in mid-life. In 1999, the tandem penned “Maria,” which charted in the United States and topped the British charts.
“I really believe we could do it again,” Stein says. “I love having hits. It’s so nice having one of your songs on the radio. Once you experience what it feels like to have a hit, you want more.”
So Blondie, which will perform Saturday at the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, is back with “Pollinator,” which dropped in May. The new album is comprised of tracks that meld contemporary sounds with the band’s trademark disco-punk-pop sound.
“We always want to challenge ourselves,” Stein says. “We don’t just want to be one of those bands that play the old songs. We’re not here for nostalgia. We’ll play the older songs, and when we play them, there are some changes, some rearrangement. That makes it interesting for us, and I think it makes it interesting for the audience. But what makes things really interesting is playing some new songs.”
Blondie still performs with an edge. During its show in Philadelphia, it was evident that Harry and her bandmates were having fun. When it comes to performance, Harry is refreshingly old school. She admits that she is bummed out by the homogenous music scene, which is filled with rock bands that fail to connect with crowds live.
“I would like to see more personality and eccentricity in the arts than we have seen over recent years,” Harry says. “I want the full seven-course dinner when I go to a show. Unfortunately, all you usually get these days are appetizers. I would like an album that can fulfill me like a great dinner. That’s our approach when we make music.”
Blondie also has staying power. Most of the bands who broke out of New York City along with Blondie during the ’70s are history now – Talking Heads, Television and the Ramones are all finished.
“You have to give us credit for keeping this together,” Stein says “But we want to keep it together. We not only love the music, we love being around each other. It hasn’t gotten tired after all these years. It’s still a lot of fun.”
Who: Blondie and Garbage
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh