Dirty Harry Ultimate Tribute to Blondie and The Sensational David Bowie Tribute Band at The Liquid Room (Venue 276) was a nostalgic trip back evening to the music of two musical icons –David Bowie and Blondie.
Headlining tonight’s show at a sold out Liquid Room were Dirty Harry, and they probably can make a rightful claim to being the ultimate Blondie tribute band. With an iconic lead vocalist like Debbie Harry, it is easy to forget sometimes that Blondie were a band and the name of the band was “Blondie”, and the band were one of the tightest bands performing live in the 1970s and 1980s. The Dirty Harry band are on their own a very good band that absolutely get that sound of the originals, and many of these songs are far more complex in musical structure than they seem on the surface. Sarah Kennedy is of course the visual focus of “Dirty Harry” and makes an outstanding Debbie Harry sound alike...stronger vocals than the original actually.
Dirty Harry the band are a slick professional outfit and with Sarah upfront on vocals there is a genuine warmth and connection always with their audience, and part of that is that, like all the best tribute acts around, Sarah Kennedy brings enough of herself on stage when performing not to just be someone trying to mimic someone else.
Image wise it was nice tonight to see the visual recreation of Blondie’s classic “Parallel Lines” album – minus though that classic little white dress Debbie Harry wore. Always an odd album for me this one as it was really the band at their commercial peak and moving away from the punkier sounds of the two earlier albums. The next up “Autoamerican” just somehow never followed up on this success.
I always will have a preference for the earlier material like “X-Offender” , but there were some great versions of the huge commercial hits here – “Heart of Glass”, “Rapture” and “Atomic” plus two songs I always love hearing this band do from this later period - “Shayla” and “Union City Blues”. I think I might actually prefer the Sarah Kennedy vocals on these to the Debbie Harry ones.
One song however that always shows up the band’s technical ability when they play it is “Call Me”. This collaboration with Giorgio Moroder for the Richard Gere film American Gigolo is not an easy sound to replicate live (no Moroder studio sound is), and they do a great job with it.
As always too with Dirty Harry, that extra skill that you have to learn (and some performers never seem to) – how to play not only to but with an audience.
For more information on the band visit.
Opening the show “The Sensational David Bowie Tribute Band” with John and Alan upfront as David Bowie and Mick Ronson was mostly a classic 1970s set with a few later songs in there. Often, the iconic imagery of David Bowie can over-shadow the fact that he always played with very good musicians behind him and the band here are all talented musicians that recreate well the sound of classic tracks that included the obvious ones that you must put into any “Bowie tribute Set” - ”Rebel Rebel”, “Changes”, “All The Young Dudes” and of course “Ziggy Stardust”, but also nice to hear “Sorrow”, “John I’m Only Dancing” and “The Man Who Sold The World”. It would be good to hear Janice from the band doing the vocals on this last song though as David Bowie did personally ask Lulu to record it...it would give it that female vocals twist again.
Any David Bowie tribute band always to me faces two immediate problems, and the biggest one of course is that no one ever sounded or looked like David Bowie again (or ever will). There was always something indefinable about the man and his music that just somehow never gets recaptured. But this band do get close and that is the best anyone will ever do for someone like myself who grew up watching David Bowie and his personas of Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust first take form. The second of course is that few people can ever really re-create the iconic sounds of Mick Ronson playing guitar..Alan gets close though.
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Review by Tom King