Blondie rocks the forest

A FACE in the crowd caught my eye.The old gent must have been pushing 70, and his eyes were bright with a look of pure rapture - forgive the allusion to the song.

Blondie,

High Lodge, Thetford Forest.

Saturday night

A FACE in the crowd caught my eye.

The old gent must have been pushing 70, and his eyes were bright with a look of pure rapture - forgive the allusion to the song.

His gaze was glued to pop icon Deborah Harry on stage, and I wondered if he had adored her from afar since the 1970s.

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There was a huge cross section of ages, from families with teenage kids, to gangs of women in their 40s, plus a couple of punks sporting Mohicans, as Blondie welcomed thousands of what she called 'nature lovers' to the clearing in Thetford Forest.

The former waitress and Playboy bunny was keen to give other members of the band their moment of glory, often retiring to the back of the stage.

Highlights included stunning renditions of Atomic and Rapture which gave guitarists Chris Stein and Paul Carbonara a chance to shine, and they all grabbed it with both hands.

Original Blondie drummer Clem Burke was in danger of stealing the show, spinning his drumsticks a good ten feet in the air - and catching them to seamlessly continue the beat.

But Harry's voice rang as true as ever, and Maria, the band's last number one hit, was a real treat to hear in particular.

The 62-year-old gave a high-energy performance, coupled with characteristic cool when it came to attitude. There was no time for banter with the audience, as she kicked and strutted her way seamlessly from one hit to the next.

The band even injected traditionally slower songs like The Tide is High with a burst of unexpected vigour. From reggae to rap, they stuck to their original hits rather than including any of Harry's solo songs. Not a bad choice by any means, because Blondie remains one of the few bands to have scored a succession of number one hits over three decades.

They saved the popular cover song Denis, and number one hit Heart of Glass, until the very end of the hour-and-a-half-long set, by which time they had rocked the forest and left everyone wanting more.

Just forget the warm-up act Charlotte Hatherley, who brought a crashing blur of noise rather than a tune.

TRACEY SPARLING

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