“The Rage and Rapture” is what Blondie and Garbage’s current joint tour is called, and the name certainly fits the style of the two headliners. At their recent Las Vegas stop, John Doe & Exene—better known as half of Los Angeles punk heroes X—kicked off the evening with a too-brief, bluegrass-influenced set. It couldn’t have been further in style from Garbage’s show, which featured searing guitars and blinding lights to accompany the band’s glossy bombast. Frontwoman Shirley Manson stalked the stage in a sequined gown that would have been classic Vegas stage regalia if it hadn’t been worn with motorcycle boots. The band played a number of its earlier hits, with “Queer” and “I Think I’m Paranoid” blasting out riffs, while “#1 Crush” and their James Bond theme, “The World Is Not Enough,” let Manson show her flair for more subtle, sinuous vocals.
The flickering of static on a series of giant screens heralded the arrival of Blondie, who still delivers the goods fresh, even after four decades. Deborah Harry took the stage in Queen Bee drag—literally, a golden tiara, spangled bee-mask and superheroine cape, on theme for the band’s new album, Pollinator. (Begging the question: Where is our John Waters-directed video starring Harry in an homage to The Wasp Woman?) The opening one-two punch of classics “One Way or Another” and “Hanging On the Telephone” had the audience whooping and dancing as much as their seats would let them. But the band also touched on more recent numbers during their 15-song set, including the propulsive “My Monster” and a frisky “Fun” from the new album. Harry’s magical charisma, the band’s solid skills and some of the best tunes of the late 20th century raised Blondie above the pack and damned if they aren’t still there.
Photography by Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout