The Brook, Southampton

– 14th October 2019

Clem Burke and Bootleg Blondie

Imagine you’re the drummer in a Blondie tribute band. The phone rings…
“Hi, Colin – we’re edging you off the drum stool for the next gig. We’ve got another drummer”
“Oh yeah? Who’s that?”
“Err…Clem Burke…!”
“OK, fair enough!”
Pop will indeed eat itself!

I think the Rock Regeneration Team and myself have a similar view about tribute bands. However, when my favourite drummer joins a band playing tribute to his genuine band, I had to make an exception! This is a repeat gig of one that sold out a few months ago at The Brook, and another near sell-out audience tonight is tribute (ha!) to the high regard one of the greatest pop/punk bands of the last 40 years, and their drummer, are held in.

Debbie Harris sashays into the spotlight clutching an old fashioned phone and the band launch into “Hanging On The Telephone”. Clem is beating the drums with a fervour that belies his near 65 years and itís not long before the dapper look of black tie and jacket has to loosen a little. The rest of the band are no slouches either, with the guitarist treating us to some nice effects that wouldnít be out of place in a Floyd tribute band. There’s some nice medley moments too such as “Sunday Girl” morphing into a touch of “Green Onions”. I’ve always felt that the wide range of influences that Blondie brought to their punk/disco/pop crossover sound was a great strength and the Bootleggers seem to get that too.

Bootleg Blondie
Bootleg Blondie 123

Following a short break, the band are back in a change of clothes with a more rock star look, although Debbie seems to be changing gear more frequently than others and looks the part! The second set kicks off with a favourite of mine, “Dreaming” and continues with all the hits and more, Debbie straps on a guitar for an authentic take on “Union City Blueí” Thereís even a new collaboration between Clem and the band, “Enigma Soho Au Go Go”, which is available on 7″ vinyl, so this is not just a tribute band. A well-chosen cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” is followed by “Rapture” and the 1999 comeback single, “Maria”.

The crowd won’t let them go without an encore of “Atomic”, in which the guitar line strays cleverly into ëRiders On The Stormí followed by ëCall Meí. The grand finale is an unexpected cover of The Jams “Town Called Malice”, which goes down well with the audience and Clem looks like he enjoys playing it too. Sometimes the rules have to be broken. I’m glad I did tonight as I doubt I will get an opportunity to see the master sticksman at such close quarters playing with the genuine article.

Set List 1
Hanging on the Telephone (The Nerves)
One Way or Another
Picture This
Fade Away and Radiate
Pretty Baby
I Know but I Don’t Know
Will Anything Happen?
Sunday Girl
Green Onions (Booker T. & The MG’s)
Heart of Glass
I’m Gonna Love You Too (Buddy Holly)
Just Go Away

Set 2
Living In The Real World
Shayla / Union City Blue
Kung Fu Girls
Rip Her to Shreds
X Offender
Denis (Randy & The Rainbows)
Fan Mail
(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear
Enigma Soho Au Go Go
In the Flesh
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ (Lee Hazlewood)
Call Me
Town Called Malice (The Jam)


Words, Pictures & Video by Adrian Saunders (Who gave a strong case for breaking our no Tribute band Rule!!).