By Aly Walansky
CBGB has become the setting for a men’s fashion boutique, and Luna Lounge was eradicated to make room for condos but last week, rocker Debbie Harry proved the area’s music scene isn’t completely dead. She packed The Fillmore at Irving Plaza to launch her national solo tour in support of “Necessary Evil,” her first solo album in 14 years.
Visually stunning as in her CBGB-dominating punk-era heyday, Harry opened the show to a jam-packed house in a black web top, pleated mini skirt and sexy boots, her trademark flaxen blonde hair looking fine; the face, youthful and flawless as ever. The icon whose legend defies the decades has a physique to match – and from the first note, her rabid fans were clamoring for more.
Harry’s solo tour backing band, made up of notable players of the New York and New Jersey music scene, included Tom Brislin on keyboards, Bob Hart on bass, J.P. Doherty on guitar, and Paul Wells on drums. From the top of the set to the end, the band was tight and well oiled, and an unplugged rendition of Blondie classics “The Tide Is High” and “Heart of Glass” between Harry and Doherty on guitar was an extra special moment of the set, replete with a heartfelt audience sing-a-long.
The Blondie front woman and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is a longstanding icon of the Manhattan music scene. The eclectic “Necessary Evil” is her fifth solo album, and her first in 14 years. In the interim, she did some acting, toured and recorded a pair of albums with Blondie, and did a series of solo shows, most recently earlier this year on Cyndi Lauper’s
True Colors tour, with Erasure, the Dresden Dolls, the Gossip and many others.
Harry handpicked the collaborators for “Necessary Evil,” working closely with New York City production team Super Buddha (Barb Morrison and Charles Nieland), Jazz Passengers’ Roy Nathanson and Bill Ware, The Toilet Boys’ Guy Furrow and Chris Stein (Blondie). The result is a collection of new material that showcases Deborah’s illustrious voice and dexterity for musical genres. The Irving Plaza show, as well, was an effort in collaboration, with guest appearances by Super Buddha, Nomi (who recently recorded a new version
of “Heat of the Moment” with Harry) and a brilliant encore performance of “Charm School” with Miss Guy from The Toilet Boys.