When on January 21st, 1979, Rush needed an opening act for the Philadelphia leg of their Hemispheres tour, Blondie got the call. Georgia-based southern rockers Stillwater couldn’t play. So would the New Yorkers deliver what 18,000 fans of the Canadian rockers packed into the city’s Spectrum venue wanted?
Blondie had opened at the Spectrum for Alice Cooper in June 1978. That didn’t start too well. Reports tell of Cooper fans yelling“Boo Blondie off stage…they’re PUNK!” But before long the crowd was into it. So when Blondie stepped out and Debby Harry began to sing, the band was hopeful.
And then the Rush fans started to boo. Blondie played on. The opening strains of their second song, ‘One Way or Another’, was hailed by barraged of glow sticks. Blondie (dressed in a neon-pink baby doll nightie with heels) gave the crowd the finger. Someone threw a glass bottle towards Harry’s head. She threw it back into the crowd. They played three songs until Clem Burke tossed down his drum kit. The bad left the stage, shielded from the assault by Clem using his cymbals as shields. “Fuck you, Philadelphia,” came Harry’s parting shot.
Marie O’Donnell was at the show. She wrote to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s letters page:
“Recently, I made the mistake of attending a Spectrum concert. The first act of the night’s bill, Blondie, was treated in a way I have never before witnessed. The group was pelted with garbage by a drugged, hostile audience. These shows seem no more than mass babysitting for a group of bored pre-teens and high schoolers who feel that their main purpose of their attendance is to get stoned.”
The Triangle, the independent student newspaper for the city’s Drexel University in Philly, reported that the crowd booed throughout the playing of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sir Duke’ and expressed their hatred for disco.
Dear lovers of all great music – Rush fans have your surrounded.
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