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The BoDeans' take on pop-reggae was fun back in 1986, when it was part of the Wisconsin band's debut album, "Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams," but it was bigger and badder at Friday's show at the 9:30 club, what with Bukka Allen pumping away on a very un-Caribbean accordion, Eric Holden's bass rattling the balcony and Kenny Aronoff beating to beat the band.
The audience nearly took over "Still the Night," urged on by singer-guitarist Kurt Neumann.
Aronoff fuses eloquence and attack more seamlessly than any drummer on the roots side of rock: Put hammers in his hands, and he'd pound out a skyscraper -- while threatening to knock it down.
He, Allen and Holden provided a firm foundation for Neumann and Sammy Llanas's late-'80s repertoire of hits: "Dreams," "Only Love," "Still the Night" and "Fadeaway."
Newness came in the torqued-up arrangements; the songs from the group's latest, "Homebrewed"; and the opener, Shannon McNally, whose ability to "Ooooh" ought to win an award. On "Sweet Forgiveness," she imbued passive-aggressive lyrics ("Forgive my love . . . I'm angry to the bone") with even more colors: she evoked sympathy, scared you a little, and still sounded downright gorgeous.
-- Pamela Murray Winters
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra opened its 2005-06 season Saturday at George Mason Center for the Arts with a not altogether comfortable collaboration. There was pianist Claude Frank, just shy of 80, pouring his wisdom into a lyrical and technically crisp performance of the Beethoven "Emperor" Concerto No. 5 while the orchestra plodded along, heavy-footed and pedantic-sounding. The horns and the bassoons struggled, and the strings, well-balanced and sonorous, missed opportunities to match Frank in shaping phrases and maintaining momentum.
After intermission, the orchestra was much more focused for the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony. Conductor William Hudson paced this expansive work carefully and was judicious in the use of dynamic extremes. The clarinet opening was powerful (the clarinets were in top form throughout), and although the horns and bassoons continued to have problems, the rest of the orchestra offered just what had been missing.
The FSO has planned an impressive nine-concert season and will offer, for the first time, chamber music concerts. It is a solid orchestra with a loyal following, and the programs provide affordable opportunities to hear fine music in a fine hall.
-- Joan Reinthaler