You can call it “girl power” or “woman power” or “female power” or whatever you’d like to bill it as, but The Rage and Rapture Tour of 2017 is full of some bad-ass women in music and it was an honor to witness this show recently in Raleigh, North Carolina. The tour made a stop on August 5, 2017 at the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh and the venue was packed damn near close to capacity. The tour features Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Blondie as well as Garbage, with Deap Vally serving as openers on this leg of the tour. Debbie Harry and Blondie emerged in punk and new waves’ underground in 1974 while Shirley Manson of Garbage was in grade school and the ladies in Deap Vally weren’t even born yet. She has definitely been an influence on them as well as kicking down quite a few doors that helped these ladies and countless others throughout the years.
The duo of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards, also known as Deap Vally, are opening this leg of the tour and although it’s a great opportunity to be in, it’s not always the easiest. Only a small percentage of the crowd has already made it into the venue and the sun is usually beating directly into the stage, but it’s carpe diem time! The duo (minus Edwards) appeared in Raleigh, NC last year as openers for Wolfmother at another venue and we were there for that show, so we were super stoked for the chance to see them again. Their look is colorful, psychedelic at times and glammy, but their music is far from that. It’s hard to really describe it as it’s a primal rock sound infused with crunchy, grungy guitars. The band has a short set and limited time to make an impact, but damn if they didn’t come out swinging! “Baby I Can Hell” was their opener and we watched as heads in the audience started turning towards the stage to see who this band was. “Smile More” attracted more onlookers and before you knew it, their last song “Royal Jelly” was playing and this amazing sonic warfare that was unleashed on an unsuspecting audience in Raleigh was coming to a close. It was short, somewhat satisfying (although we wanted much more) and hopefully converted some of those in attendance who previously didn’t have a clue into fans.
Garbage was up next and the band opened with their latest single “No Horses” followed by “Sex is not the Enemy” from Bleed Like Me. Manson commanded the stage as she paced back in forth with her fiery red hair and black and white striped jumpsuit that reminded us of an old Missy Elliott video although this one appeared to be made out of cloth. Early into the show, Manson stopped to wish her tour lighting designer Aaron a happy birthday and asked the crowd to help sing along. A few songs later, Manson pointed out a sign on the audience that she wanted to read because it was hard to sing and read at the same time. It was someone else’s birthday and all they wanted was to meet Manson. She invited the fan up to the stage and signed their poster for them which was a pretty cool gesture. The set was an interesting mix of newer tracks such as “Empty” and “Blackout” from their latest album Strange Little Birds as well as their staples “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” “Queer” and “Stupid Girl.”
Blondie was up next to close out the night and the band entered to an odd, static like intro over the PA system and on the big screen before launching into their hit “One Way or Another” which caught some people of guard. How many bands do you know that kick off a show with one of its biggest hits? Debbie Harry was sporting sunglasses a headpiece consisting of a large bee on each side of her head. The band supplied some new material as well with four tracks being played off of their latest album Pollinator and to be perfectly honest, they fit in really well with the older tracks. It has to be tough coming up with a setlist when you have been around since 1974, minus time for a break-up period but add time on for solo careers. Yes, there were a few songs that I missed hearing such as “Maria,” “Denis” and “Sunday Girl,” but I understand that they have to promote the new stuff too. Debbie Harry looked and sounded great; it’s so freaking hard to wrap my head around the fact that she is 72 years young. She, Chris Stein (guitar) and Clem Burke (drums) have been there for the entire Blondie ride. Stein likes to keep a bit of a low profile on-stage, but his guitar work is far from low profile. He may not be the flashiest guitarist, but his guitar licks have played a damn important part in the Blondie sound over all of these years. Also, let’s not take a thing away from Burke’s contributions as the man is still a freaking beast on that kit.
The band included their staples such as “Call Me,” “Rapture” and “Atomic” in their set and closed out things with “Heart of Glass.” The left and teased the crowd with the eternal concert question of “will there be an encore or not?” before returning for “The Tide is High” and “Dreaming.” For many, Blondie’s set was like time warping back to a time when life was so much easier as many were still in their youth, with less bills and responsibility than they have on their shoulders nowadays. It amazing how live music can help you escape from your everyday troubles and challenges. Many in attendance were still dancing as they made their way back to their vehicles and singing the hits that still were fresh in their minds. It was a pretty amazing evening of live music brought to you by some very talented women with the help of some very talented guys.