Dan Fogelberg got a jump on the solstice and opened the 10th season at Columbia's Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night before a large and wildly enthusiastic crowd.

Offering a surprisingly varied program of acoustic and electric compositions culled from earlier albums and his just-released "Nether Lands," Fogelberg took a giant step out from under the pat singer/songwriter mold in which he's been cast.

Taking the stage alone, he opened with the title cut from "Nether Land," a quiet, airy ballad which instantly established his vocal power. Alternating between piano and acoustic guitar, Fogelberg picked his way through several soft pieces including a moving "Old Tennessee" and a jaunty instrumental reading of Luis Bonfa's "Manha de Carnaval," the samba-based theme from the film "Black Orpheus." It was during this acoustic set that Fogelberg displayed remarkable control of a voice that generally hovers near falsetto - control that allowed for a subtle yet penetrating melodic quality.

Later, backed acoustically by Fool's Gold, the entire band offered versions of "Morning Sky," "Captured Angel," and other Fogelberg tunes, and then turned electric for his new single, "Love Gone By." Fool's Gold, who opened the show with a pleasant but rather bland set, was far more exciting in support of Fogelberg's brand of hand-clapping Colorado/California country. This was especially evident during a rousing "Just Like You and Me" and the finale, "Part of the Plan."

"The Raven" seemed a bit anticlimactic as a first encore but the followup - the near spiritual "Let It Shine" - had the audience cheering for more.