God Is In The TV > Reviews > Live > LIVE: Johnny Marr + Blondie – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, 05/05/2022

LIVE: Johnny Marr + Blondie – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, 05/05/2022

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Originally scheduled for November 2021, Blondie’s ‘Against All Odds’ tour is drawing to an end after ten explosive shows across the UK. When the inevitable delay was originally announced, it came with the upset that the band would no longer be supported by Garbage – though every cloud has its lining and their absence paved the way for everyone’s guitar hero, Johnny Marr.

Taking to the stage at the early time of 7:30pm, Johnny kicked off his set with the synth splashed ‘Armatopia’ before ‘Panic’ – his first Smiths offering of the evening. Wittily changing the words to reference the streets of Nottingham – with a cheeky smile on his face – it was obvious just two songs in that the Manchester icon is having the time of his life on this tour. Though it’s the Smiths tracks that got everyone on their feet, it was Johnny’s solo material that shone brightest and the anthemic ‘Spirit, Power and Soul’ sounded like it was written to be blasted through arenas and stadiums. 

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When it comes to writing a set list, Johnny certainly ticks the ‘career spanning’ and ‘crowd pleasing’ boxes; from paying homage to the Smiths and Electronic with anthems such as ‘This Charming Man’ and ‘Getting Away With It’ to the infectiously catchy ‘Night and Day’ –  featuring sublime bass work from Iwan Gronow, the latter was the only other offering from his recently released album, Fever Dreams Pts.1-4. Johnny brought the tone down slightly with the breathtakingly intense ‘Walk Into The Sea’ – boasting one of his two strongest vocal performances of the evening – the second being the utterly sublime ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’, which is always a welcome addition in his setlist. 

After sending shivers down the spines of everybody in the crowd as the tremolo sound of Smiths cult classic ‘How Soon Is Now’ echoed around the room, Johnny launched into ‘Easy Money’ – impressing the crowd with its stabby riffs and nagging hooks – before triumphantly ending his set with a spectacular version of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ that saw the crowd singing and dancing from the front to the back.

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Blondie kicked off proceedings with their debut single, ‘X Offender’ before diving into a double whammy of ‘Parrallel Lines’ tracks – ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ and ‘Sunday Girl’. Accompanied by a backdrop featuring monochrome stripes similar to the albums artwork, all three tracks highlighted the strength of Debbie Harry’s vocals, which sounded just as breath-taking as they did when the band formed in the 1970’s.

Renowned for his powerhouse drumming, Clem Burke showcased exactly that as he introduced one of the bands most haunting tracks, ‘Fade Away and Radiate’ before the band made a seamless transition into an extended version of ‘The Tide Is High’. Though Chris Stein had to unfortunately pull out of the tour due to a heart condition, the band sure as hell brought in the big guns – with Andee Blacksugar filling in, alongside Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock on bass. From guitarist, Tommy Kessler’s shredding solos during ‘Atomic’ to keyboardist, Matt Katz-Bohen’s work during the pop fuelled number, ‘What I Heard’, the band were as slick as ever and each and every track oozed with splendour.

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Unlike most bands that found fame from the same era, these new wave pioneers are far from running on fumes and churning out the same material – Debbie energetically danced around the stage to songs both old and new and based on ‘Long Time’ alone, the crowd would have shown the same level of enthusiasm if they’d played Pollinator in its entirety. Skilled as ever at putting a setlist together, particular highlights included when things took an intense turn for ‘Rapture’, as well as the addition of ‘(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear’ – with the latter dedicated to and written by former Blondie bassist, Gary Valentine. The main set came to an end with ‘Heart of Glass’ – a track that Rolling Stone deemed one of ‘the 500 greatest songs of all time’ (and for good reason too!)

Preceded by ominous organ music, the band catapulted into the encore with a one woman version of ‘No Exit’ – their 1999 gangster-rap team-up with Coolio, Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan. – before diving into the gorgeous ‘Fragments’ from their 2017 album, Pollinator and disco-throb, ‘Call Me’. The night came to perfect end with ‘One Way Or Another’, before the band came together and took a well deserved bow before leaving the stage and a venue full of fans that never wanted the night to end.

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There’s no doubt about it that everybody in the crowd thought that they were dreaming whilst watching Blondie bring their iconic sound to Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena. It was a truly special night and with new music on the way, there’ll hopefully be back a bit sooner next time!

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