Cabaret: New York Times Disses Debbie Harry

Photo by Michael Wilhoite for Café Carlyle

Debbie Harry is currently performing a sold-out residency at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City.

Sold-out or not, Stephen Holden of the New York Times was not impressed by the 69 year old punk rock legend’s cabaret act:

Making a grand entrance in a black leather jacket and tinted sunglasses, she was every inch the platinum-haired downtown bad girl and face of the seminal, still-extant post-punk band Blondie. She resembled a tabloid American Catherine Deneuve. Instead of a band, she brought with her a one-man computer-and-synthesizer sound machine in the person of Blondie’s current keyboardist, Matt Katz-Bohen, who also played a little piano and guitar.

Those hoping that Ms. Harry would sing Blondie hits like “Rapture,” “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me” were treated to a program of songs taken mostly from her uneven solo albums, whose musical styles ranged from poppy dance numbers like her minor 1986 hit, “French Kissin’, ” to more sophisticated ballads like “Imitation of a Kiss,” which she recorded with the Jazz Passengers.


Nothing could camouflage Ms. Harry’s vocal difficulties. She was so consistently off-pitch that the songs nearly disappeared under her struggle to sing the notes. The show was the professional equivalent of a very shaky audition.

OUT’s Greg Garry felt differently:

At 69, this NYC legend’s voice still sounds strong and clear, with a slight husky tone but still able to hit those high notes, and these shows should take full advantage of that. Hopefully this will inspire her to record an album of torch songs. Then she can be the punk rock Peggy Lee. Comparisons aside, there’s only one Debbie Harry.