Blondie Keeps Cool as Beth Ditto Strips, Scissor Sisters Boogie

Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie, plays London's Lovebox festival in Victoria Park, with hits off the CD "Panic of Girls." Source: Press Here Publicity via Bloomberg

The Scissor Sisters went for the Technicolor rubber look. Beth Ditto stripped to her underwear. Debbie Harry dressed in cool black. The audience danced in Wellington boots as showers and swamps of mud failed to damp the party atmosphere.

The three-day Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park, east London, has grown from the 2002 event started by U.K. electronic duo Groove Armada. Friday was tinged with alternative bands such as the pedestrian, if popular, Wombats. On Saturday, Snoop Dogg played through his “Doggystyle” album. The smartest fans saved their energies for Sunday.

Marc Almond mixed glamour and sleaze, crooning torch songs and wearing a gold lame jacket.

Beth Ditto’s show was chaotic. Eschewing the music of her group the Gossip, she sang over an electronic beat and even covered Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” She changed from a green cape to a figure-hugging dress before stripping down further.

The members of Blondie were elegantly scrawny in leather jackets. Harry sported a choker chain saying “Bitch.” If the look was sharp, the music was not. The hits were played: “Call Me,” “Atomic,” “Heart of Glass,” even the awkward reggae “The Tide Is High.” Exceptionally poor sound obliterated the disco tension that had propelled Harry’s band to stardom.

The Scissor Sisters show was a riot of color, charisma and choruses. Singers Jake Shears and Ana Matronic boogied across the stage in colorful rubber outfits, belting out modern disco such as “Fire With Fire” and “Take Your Mama.”

Robyn demonstrated why she has been chosen to support both Madonna and Katy Perry. Dressed in swirling Alexander McQueen leggings, the petite Swede twirled and danced in front of two keyboard players and two drummers. “With Every Heartbeat” shimmered with electronic pop bliss.

Last night closed with 2 Many DJs. The Belgian duo mixed thumping techno tracks with everything from the Clash to MGMT, never letting the energy flag. It was music for dancing and the euphoric crowd did just that -- a perfect ending to one of the best parties in London.

Rating: ***.


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(Robert Heller is a music critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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