Forty years after their CBGB days, Blondie played their first Madison Square Garden show on Saturday evening when they opened for Morrissey. The timing couldn’t have been better, coming one day after the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality ruling, making much of their 45-minute show feel like a victory party. For the grand finale of “The Tide Is High,” they brought out 19-piece brass band What Cheer? and by the end of the song, frontwoman Debbie Harry was draped in the gay rights rainbow flag and everyone in MSG was on their feet.
Blondie stuck largely to their biggest hits like “Call Me,” “Heart of Gold” and “Rapture,” though Morrissey took a very different approach to his setlist. After opening up with the amazing one-two shot of “The Queen Is Dead” and “Suedehead,” he devoted the majority of his show to his 2014 LP World Peace Is None Of Your Business (which was withdrawn weeks after its release due to a dispute with Harvest records) and other recent work. He also convinced MSG to not sell any meat at their concession stands, and said the only people he’d support for president are Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. (No love for Colbert?)
The crowd of Morrissey diehards didn’t seem to mind the emphasis on new material, and for the final two songs of the main set, he returned to the Smiths catalog for a downbeat “Meat Is Murder” and euphoric “What She Said.” “I would very sincerely like to thank Madison Square for going cruelty-free tonight,” he said near the end of the show. “It’s a historic night in New York City, just as it’s a historic week in the USA. Good times, for a change.” Appropriately enough, he wrapped up the night with the Vauxhall And I tune “Now My Heart Is Full.”