Blond-E – The Mountain Ash Inn, Mountain Ash – 01/01/2012



The Mountain Ash Inn has been attracting attention lately, especially since former Creation Records’ boss, Alan McGee has been DJing there recently. Tonight, the place was packed to the rafters, with women of all ages dressed to the nines, and even many of the men had made an effort. Apparently, New Year’s Day is the “new New Year’s Eve” in terms of being the night to go out!

Debbie Harry stand-in, Diana Watts, took to the stage, looking the part in a “Andy Warhol’s Bad” t-shirt and PVC shorts. As with the original Blondie, of course the singer was the focal point. Our heroine has the same effortless sex appeal: if she had her own website, it would have to be one of the new “.xxx” domains!

Her vocals were authentic, and very good indeed, only occasionally faltering with high notes in songs like “Maria” for example, which she later blamed on a heavy cold: she was, after all, drinking Lemsip! Besides which, Debbie Harry’s voice live was apparently rarely perfect, and it is the done thing for tribute acts to sometimes try and emulate mistakes as much as the parts done well. Carrying the same enigmatic smile, and also with some dance moves not seen since the early 80s, you could be forgiven for wondering where Diana Watts stops and Debbie Harry starts. It may have taken her 44 years to realise it, but I think this singer may have been born to be Blondie, or at least, Blond-E.

As for the other members of the band, only Dom, the keyboard player, makes a claim to look like an original member. They were all sedately dressed in black and, except for Adrian sometimes coming forward to play his cordless guitar, they mostly were content to fit into the backseat of the Diana-driven vehicle. The sound was by no means perfect, but the band held together well. They might need just a little more practice to really tighten things up, but bear in mind that this was just their fourth gig. They certainly won the crowd over well, with many 40-somethings, and dare I say it, perhaps even 50-somethings, dancing by the end. Of course, with such a great back catalogue of songs to choose from, they were always onto a winner. Even all those in their 20s also looked to be enjoying themselves.

A few well-selected covers – “Echo Beach” being a favourite – were worked in to beef up the 2 sets, but even with these, it seemed as if they were being done, not by any old band, but in a style that Blondie themselves might have played them.

It was the Blondie songs that stuck in my mind the most though – particularly opener “One Way or Another”, “Atomic”, “Dreaming” and of course, “Heart of Glass” – along with a truly memorable performance by singer, Diane. She had men queuing up to give her a congratulatory kiss after, and might have collected some new Blond-E group-es! This gig was a great way to start the year.

(photos below taken by Steve Ridley)

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.