Garbage’s Shirley Manson didn’t hold back, getting up close with front-row fans during a co-headlined concert with Blondie at the Santa Barbara Bowl on July 7. (Steve Kennedy / Noozhawk photo)
  • After a few sound issues, Blondie settled into a rockin’ groove during a sold-out, co-headlined concert with Garbage at the Santa Barbara Bowl on July 7.
  • Blondie’s Debbie Harry dons a bee hat in promotion of the band’s latest album, Pollinator.
  • Shirley Manson commands the stage as Garbage performs July 7 at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
  • Garbage’s Shirley Manson didn’t hold back, getting up close with front-row fans.

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The heat was on at the Santa Barbara Bowl for the sold-out, co-headlining Blondie and Garbage show on July 7.

The crowd showed up early, rocked out and stayed late. It’s good to see an evening of women rock the house, engaging the crowd and overheating the historic venue.

Garbage, the co-headliners, easily could have fronted the top of the bill, and they played a scorching show worthy of a headlining act. The band hailing from Madison, Wis., energized the crowd with their brand of depressing to more depressing — in a good way — alternative rock music.

Shirley Manson commanded the stage. She brings a toughness to her femininity and doesn’t hold back — prancing from side to side of the stage, getting up close and in your face with the front-row fans, and never holding back. She exclaimed that this show was special because they live close by and that there were several important people in the crowd, including their former band manager and bass player.

Garbage ripped with their set with solid guitar playing from Duke Erikson and Steve Marker as they played hit songs “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.”

Blondie’s set started with some sound problems. The bass was dropping out, and there were some feedback issues. The soundboard guys were busy dialing it in, but it didn’t take long and the sound was reeling.

Debbie Harry, at age 72, was out there giving it her all. Donning a large and flashy hat with two large bee bodies in promotion of their latest album, Pollinator, as well as her trademark blonde hair and Ray Ban sunglasses, she looked stunning. She also made a statement with choice words on the back of her long, black cape: “Stop F**king the Planet.”

Harry has never been one to mince words, and she is still thumbing her middle finger at the establishment. Her on-stage attraction is undeniable, and she seemed to really enjoy herself during the show.

But she made one obvious blunder: She was talking to the crowd about returning from touring in Europe when she said, this place “could be Atlanta.” The comment drew many groans and a few boos from the crowd, and it seemed to kill some of the momentum of the set. A tip to performers: Know your venue and play to it.

Of course, Harry brushed it off and kept on rocking, crushing many of her greatest hits, including “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “One Way or Another” and fan favorite sing-along “Rapture.” It would have been nice to see a longer set from Blondie as they played for only a little more than an hour.

The night featured two strong female lead singers, with strong voices and unparalleled commitment to their opinions. They express these opinions not only with their words and popular songs but in the stunning fashion they display. The crowd survived an oppressive heat wave and glowing full moon. They were into the vibe and the music, and they seemed to receive the Rage and Rapture tour very well.

Steve Kennedy is a Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.