We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to revisit not only one of the most important venues in rock and roll but also one of it’s most important children, as we look back at a fiery performance from Debbie Harry and Blondie at CBGB.
The electric energy which pulsed through New York in the mid-to-late-seventies all seemed to congregate in and around the foul depths of the grim-ridden punk club CBGB. It was there that Patti Smith, Ramones, Talking Heads and so many others found their musical feet. Today we’re bringing you a special clip of one of its greatest alumni, Blondie.
In this clip, taken from the band’s DVD Blondie: Live at CBGB, we get an up-close and personal look at the band near the start of their epic musical odyssey, though the band had been gaining attention for a few years, in 1977 everything kicked up a notch. The sound quality may be a little poor, the video follows suit, but the overall picture we get is that of a band who are vibrating with the potential to change the musical landscape.
The footage sees the band taking to the famous, if not a little dirty, stage of CBGBs in New York. At the time, the venue provided the heartbeat of the city’s underground scene. It was playing host to so many bands of the moment, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Ramones, Television and many more were all regulars, that it made the venue the epicentre of punk not just in the city but in the world.
This was the stage that faced Blondie on one sweaty night in May of 1977. They were a few years into their journey by now but hadn’t really put their stamp on the scene outside of a mile-radius around the club. Harry and co. had been playing there for a few years but even they were wary of CBGB’s tempestuous crowd. Their debut album Blondie had been released with a whimper to the wider music set but New York was still abuzz with Blondie, especially their enigmatic lead singer, Debbie Harry.
A few months off re-releasing their debut LP with Chrysalis Records, Clem Burke, Chris Stein, Gary Valentine, and Debbie Harry take to the stage to deliver a captivating performance of most of their debut record and some covers too. As well as some of their best numbers they also covered The Yardbirds, The Runaways, and more. But, we’re here to relive their performance of their seminal single ‘Rip Her To Shreds’, and wow, do they do that.
Harry prowls the stage like a predatory cat, keeping her eyes on the prize while negotiating the notoriously awful sound at CBGB, she doesn’t drop her gaze for a second. Like a prize-fighter circling her prey, waiting for one moment were the crowd’s stare might drop then pow! She hits them with a quick one-two and you’re certain this ain’t over yet. Amply backed by the band she delivers the kind of performance which saw Blondie rocket up the charts and spread their unflinching message far and wide.
The Rod Swenson directed DVD, which was released in 2014, shows this even more effectively. The 15 song set is a powerhouse of a performance. It bundles all the energy and electrifying power of Blondie into one 47-minute watch, which is an absolute must for any fan of the band.
You can find the full setlist below, but for now, enjoy an early piece of footage of Blondie performing ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ at CBGB in 1977.
- Kung Fu Girls
- In the Sun
- Little Girl Lies
- Look Good in Blue
- Man Overboard
- A Shark in Jets Clothing
- Rifle Range
- In the Flesh
- Youth Nabbed as a Sniper
- Rip Her to Shreds
- Heart Full of Soul
- I Love Playing with Fire
- Palisades Park
- Denis (Studio Rehearsal)