Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
John Denver, Mr. Good-Two-Shoes himself, spread sunshine and happines over the Capital Centre on Monday, lighting up 20,000 fans who reciprocated by radiating warmth back to the source. It was a lovefest/songfest of the first magnitude.
If all this sounds a bit glowing and gooey, it is, and was. But, after all, this is exactly what draws people to John Denver's concerts.
Denver is high on life and mountains and clear air and oceans and sunshine and laughing children and love and . . . All of which is fine and might even be occasionally "significant" if it weren't that all this wide-eyed optimism frequently interferes with more incisive renderings of musical/lyrical themes.
The danger of being a Pollyanna while also striving to be an artist is that your art can suffer from complacency as you reaffirm tried and true values. This is not necessarily to disparage those values. It is just that wholesale acceptance of them can prevent new ways of perceiving.
Denver's best songs Monday were those whose melodies suggest (rarely to the lyrics follow suit) that a degree of pain is implicit in one's celebration of life. Those, however, were not the songs that got the warmest response; the crowd seemed most pleased by the country clappers and toe-tappers.