The band charged onstage holding a long, scrolling set list. In their only address from the stage, they told the crowd, “We have all these songs to play and less than hour to play them.” So they nudged the tempos up a bit and plowed through what felt like every key track from Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big Black Sun and More Fun in the New World — the debut quartet of albums helmed by the late Doors organist Ray Manzarek — with rapid-fire ferocity and without taking tuning or banter breaks. Mission accomplished! I don’t recall seeing guitarist Billy Zoom, the Chet Atkins of Punk Picking, even stop to look down at his fretboard once.
Then there was the time I saw the band play the song “Los Angeles” in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, at the city’s Sunset Junction Festival. Kids were toppling fences, perching themselves on street signs and running from cops — it was the was the kind of Sunset Strip-centric moment of punk savagery I thought I’d only ever get to experience vicariously on repeat viewings of The Decline of Western Civilization.
While I don’t anticipate that kind of spirited barbarity will be the rule when X opens for Blondie at the Ryman on Sept. 30 (though I do at least hope attendees don’t stay glued to their pews), I have high hopes that the band — which still boasts the original lineup of John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and D.J. Bonebrake) will barn-burn through their many classics.
Blondie, of course, ain’t short on classics of their own. “One Way or Another,” “The Tide Is High,” “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “Dreaming” — expect to hear ‘em all. And where else will you get to hear a Nerves gem (“Hanging on the Telephone”) covered alongside Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax,” songs the band has busted out and given the peroxide treatment at recent gigs.
Tickets go on sale July 12. As a promotion, Blondie is giving away a five-track exclusive download of songs from its forthcoming, as-yet-untitled 10th full-length.