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PERFORMING ARTS

-- Dave McKenna

Young@Heart

"Hey, you, get off my lawn!" No, Young@Heart, the senior-citizen chorus known for performing rock, punk, soul, R&B and hip-hop tunes, isn't interested in parody when its nearly two dozen members step -- or roll -- onstage. As the New England ensemble showed in its benefit performance Saturday night at the Duke Ellington Theater, the group isn't looking for easy laughs while performing tunes composed by Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and Allen Toussaint, among others.

The focus of a widely acclaimed film that will be released on DVD next week, the chorus is composed of singers ages 70 to 90-plus. Some clearly possess a natural comic flair -- and they make the most of it. But with help from director Bob Cilman and a small, versatile combo on Saturday, the group often performed with poker-faced sincerity and all the spirit it could muster en route to a long standing ovation.

Stan Goldman, who arrived onstage in a wheelchair, toting a cane that would later come in handy as both a walking aid and a twirling prop, got his share of laughs when he belted out "I Feel Good," sounding rather like a Borscht Belt soul man. And, to be sure, Helen Boston and Jeanne Hatch delighted the packed house with their sly rendition of "Walk on the Wild Side." But what proved consistently entertaining was the sound of the singers giving their collective all, whether defiantly, at the top of their lungs, or during a soft, hymnlike rendition of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young."

Proceeds from the concert benefited IONA Senior Services.

-- Mike Joyce

Walkmen

In another life the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser might have defended you in a court of law. Standing there at the 9:30 club in dark jeans, with his hair coiffed, shirt ironed and tucked in, he looked positively urbane and more than a little lawyerly. But the guy can belt it out. When the Walkmen performed Saturday night, Leithauser often seemed as if he would be flattened by the power of his own lungs. Even on the relatively subdued opener, "New Country," the singer seemed to be holding on to the mike stand for dear life, bellowing at the top of his lungs and tilting backward to the angle of a tachometer needle driven into the red. Now that's what you call conviction.

This well-honed balance between decorum and candor defined the best moments of the Walkmen's 16-song set. During "In the New Year" -- from the band's recently released album "You and Me" -- it began quietly, with its collar straight and its buttons buttoned, but that reserve lasted only as long as the first verse. By the time the reverberant organ hook of the chorus came crashing down, ties had been loosened, sleeves had been rolled up and the Walkmen were letting you know how they really felt. Like an indie-rock take on "Sinatra at the Sands," the Walkmen seemed a bit loose, a tinge world-weary, maybe even a little wasted. But even as the band opened up and came unhinged, it never once lacked class.

-- Aaron Leitko


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