Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lions and tigers and...Blondie at Lincoln Park Zoo

Seasoned new wave rockers Blondie played Lincoln Park Zoo (yes, the zoo) Friday night as part of a tour honoring the 30th anniversary of their classic LP, "Parallel Lines." Iconic front woman Debbie Harry must have felt one with the animals, as she purred, roared and prowled the stage throughout the band's 90 minute set, which began with the 1978-released album in its entirety.

The zoo features bands throughout the summer as part of its "Jammin' at the Zoo" series, and surprisingly functions as a decent venue. The sound was great and the setup allowed for those who wanted to stand to do so, which, having never "jammed at the zoo," was my main concern.

The crowd was energetic and surprisingly youthful, including more than a few teenaged girls screaming with joy at the sight of Harry as if it were 1964 and the Beatles had just come on to the stage - a refreshing sign suggesting that the pop music apocalypse might not be as near as I thought.

Harry fed off the energy, abandoning her trademark cool indifference for a truly enthusiastic performance. Along with the band, which currently includes two other original members - guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke - she delivered fresh, energetic versions of genre-hopping classics such as "Heart of Glass," "Call Me," "Rapture" and "The Tide is High." Harry really came alive, though, during boisterous, seldom-played album cuts such as "11:59" and "I'm Gonna Love You Too," as well as two hard rocking tracks from her 2007 solo release, "Necessary Evil." The band even tore through a punk cover of the sappiest of all pop ballads, "My Heart Will Go On," featuring an especially fierce performance by Burke to which Harry exclaimed, "He's an animal!"

It seems animal behavior was the theme of the night.

Upcoming Lincoln Park Zoo shows include Fastball with Blind Melon on July 25 and Soul Asylum on August 22.

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