This is now the second time that I have seen Blondie tribute band Dirty Harry in concert, so that now means that I have seen them as many times as the real Blondie band (1978 and 1980 – giving my age away here), and like last time at The Electric Circus they provided a great sound and feel to what my memories of the original band are.
The set was pretty much in two halves (although things were mixed up a bit song wise) with the first half covering what is always to me the classic Blondie of the 1970s and first two studio albums. This takes in all the edgier punkier/new wave songs like “X Offender”, “Rip Her To Shreds” and “Kung Fu Girls”. The second half of the set was pretty much the big commercial hits such as “Heart of Glass”, “Atomic”, “The Tide is High” and one of my favourite songs from any group - “Sunday Girl”.
The two halves of the performance make an interesting contrast to the music of Blondie as there were no clues from the band I saw live in 1978 that they would so shortly be changing direction into disco and dance music. Little did we know that the massive selling Parallel Lines album with “Heart of Glass” was only a year away.
Although “Heart of Glass” was a huge hit and an obvious favourite with the audience tonight, I have to admit that it has never been one of my favourite songs from the commercial Blondie period... “Sunday Girl” (already mentioned), “Shayla” and “Union City Blues” are songs I like far more.
I first heard Blondie through a single called “X Offender” and to be honest paid little attention to it at the time. Like many, my real attention was caught with their gender changing cover version “Denis” – the original 1960s Denise was by Randy and The Rainbows. It was great that this show finished with that song as an encore.
Dirty Harry are a good tribute band, and like all the best tribute bands out there, they avoid that trap of just being clones. They are not Blondie and they know it, but they get that sound pretty much spot on and also bring enough of themselves as individuals to the stage to make them an honest tribute to the music but still themselves. They also manage to bring a bit of that energy on stage with them that the original Blondie had too.
As you would expect with any Blondie tribute band, it all stands or falls with “Blondie”. Lisa Aird (standing in tonight for Sarah Kennedy) is a very good Debbie Harry and, if anything, has a stronger voice than the softer sounding original that I remember on stage.
It would be nice to hear Dirty Harry covering “Little GTO” or some of the earlier “Stilettoes” stuff too (although that could only be from play list notes, as I don’t think the Stilettoes actually recorded anything). I would love to hear this band doing some original material too.
The venue was pretty packed and I knew this time where to stand if I wanted to actually see the band play in the room. The Electric Circus is probably pretty close to what early venues would have been like for Blondie.
A great night out and I look forward to their return to Edinburgh next Fringe.
To find out more about Dirty Harry the band go to