Blondie at Low Tide; New Cars Have Drive
The idea of a "Road Rage Tour" stopping at the utterly serene Wolf Trap was one of many things that seemed off Tuesday night. Another: The two new-wave bands in question -- Blondie and the New Cars (two members of the old Cars plus singer Todd Rundgren and two others) -- don't exactly evoke "rage."
In fact, it took Blondie nearly an hour to elicit an enthusiastic response from the crowd, despite playing a few hits early on ("Call Me," "The Tide Is High"). Perhaps singer Debbie Harry's obvious stiffness contributed to the lukewarm reception, or perhaps it was the group's own lethargy. Their laid-back awkwardness never quite connected with the audience.
By contrast, the New Cars had the crowd on its feet for most of their 90-minute set. Even with a set list geared heavily toward Cars hits, the group seemed less like a tribute band than a genuinely new group. They performed songs from Rundgren's catalogue ("Bang the Drum All Day" and a screeching "Black Maria") and a new song, "Not Tonight," whose bouncy, percussive melody evoked the style of the original Cars with a new flair. Although Rundgren's deep yelping never quite captured the throaty warble of original Cars singer Ric Ocasek, it seemed to matter little to the crowd, which sang along to nearly all the catchy Cars hits.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 8 June 2006; Page C04