Dirty Harry with their tribute to the look and music of Debbie Harry and Blondie at The Liquid Room was my last show review of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and as always Sarah Kennedy and the band never fail to impress and put on another great show that thoroughly entertained the packed audience at this sold out event.
Opening the show with a voice over of those classic lines from the iconic Dirty Harry movie – “Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”, the tone is firmly set for winding the hands of time backwards and re-visiting some of the iconic music of the ‘70s and ‘80s by one of the most iconic bands to come out of the punk era and survive into the mainstream of music.
I like “Dirty Harry” as a band a lot, so this review is always going to be a bit biased in their favour, and maybe unlike some people at their shows, I am not going to hear them to have them re-create somehow the original Blondie band that I first saw on stage nearly 40 years ago – that time is gone, the band were of their moment in time. What I do go to see is a band that captures much of the visual look, music and attitude of the original but with their own sound and personal identities intact. Sarah Kennedy obviously loves the look and the music of Debbie Harry and Blondie, but never crosses over into that dangerous area of thinking she is somehow the original…in fact quite the opposite, pointing out many times in the show the obvious differences. Sarah Kennedy is a perfect front person for any band, not just a “Blondie tribute band” as she knows exactly how to engage with an audience, play with them and give them the feel good night out that they came out for. Altering the set list to play “In The Flesh” for an member of the audience with a birthday tonight was a classic example of this.
One of the pleasures of watching a very good tribute band is that unless the originals re-form, you can get a run through of music from the band’s entire catalogue – something that would have in many cases been impossible at the time some of this music was originally released., and with a run through (not in order) of classic songs like “X Offender”, “Sunday Girl”, “Shayla”, “Union City Blues” and of course “Heart of Glass” we were all reminded of just how many classic songs Blondie released over a fairly short period of time. All of these songs were though done with enough individual flair from the band not to be carbon copies of the original and this is one of the other reasons why I like “Dirty Harry” so much. Dirty Harry as a band are in their own right a professional, slick and very tight band and Sarah Kennedy has behind her on stage very competent musicians who can support her musically wherever she wants to go on stage. Together Callum McNair (guitar) and Sarah Kennedy (vocals) are an ideal match on stage with each playing off against one another perfectly, and Callum always has the band perfectly timed to Sarah as she works with her audience.
Dirty Harry are one of the few bands that will get me out to a venue like The Liquid Room as I have to admit, it is not a venue I normally go to review shows at as clubs/bars with limited seating and sight lines of the band when the place is full to capacity tend not to be for me (nothing wrong with these venues, but maybe I am just too old for them now). The one thing this venue does have is a very serious light and sound set up, and the guys handling both did a great job tonight. A packed club venue like this is also what a band like Dirty Harry need to play at though, as it is where they can perform maybe closest to where the original Blondie would have played in their early days before they hit the big time and played the bigger venues.
Review by Tom King