London WC2 Astoria

[a]Blondie[/a] are not living in the real world, but one where pop is cryogenically preserved to thrill decades hence...

Here she comes now. Yeah, you know her. Miss Icon Supreme. She may look a bit different where the years and pounds have softened her edges, but when DEBBIE HARRY takes those first stiletto strides into view, it’s like the Mona Lisa with arms and sexy bits popping into your local. So familiar is her face – those prismatic cheekbones, that flaxen hair – and yet so remote; seeing her in this drab, [I]middle-aged[/I] environment seems almost blasphemous.

Sixteen years after [a]Blondie[/a]’s split, Harry, guitarist CHRIS STEIN, keyboardist Jimmy Destri and drummer Clem Burke are back, disregarding their own 1979 advice to ‘Die Young Stay Pretty’, heeding instead the song’s postscript, [I]”deteriorate in your own time”[/I], brandishing a bold clutch of new songs and a back catalogue so great it defies gravity.

Two decades ago, Blondie were seminal in bringing punk to the mainstream, fusing it with ’60s girl-group sass, dipping their crimson-varnished toes into disco, rap and reggae. In Harry they had the first female pop superstar, a vixen both vulnerable and wicked, the perfect embodiment of trashy glamour and artful pop. This reunion is, on many levels, ill-advised – better to fade away and radiate – but Blondie remain a force to be reckoned with.

The new material, rumbling with sweet menace, is virtually indistinguishable from vintage Blondie, although it can never aspire to the giddy triumphs of ‘Dreaming’, ‘Heart Of Glass’ or ‘Union City Blue’, all of which they unleash with palpable enthusiasm as Harry blows kisses to the crowd. She may be more grey than blonde, a faded shade of the punk princess she once was, but it’s impossible to rip her to shreds. At 53, she has more charisma than a phalanx of SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTORS.

Blondie are not living in the real world, but one where pop is cryogenically preserved to thrill decades hence. When the band return for an encore, Harry quips, “We had to change the batteries in our pacemakers,” and although what Blondie now offer may be an insalubrious fast-forward peek at our ageing icons, it doesn’t have to besmirch the way we remember them. In our imaginations, they remain as they appeared on the cover of ‘Parallel Lines’.

So if it’s difficult to behold Stein‘s silver hair or Harry‘s slight mid-life swell, just close your eyes. Listen to the music, which never changes, and picture this instead.