Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
It's easy to assume that, with the name change and all, Jefferson Starship is a more highly evolved descendant of Jefferson Airplane, that finest product of San Francisco's summer of love. But the Starship, who electrified 14,000 fans in a two-hour performance at the Capital Centre Wednesday night, isn't moving away from its '60s roots. Its orbit has come full circle.
On a clean rocker like "All Night Long" with the Airplane triumverate Paul Kantner, Grace Slick and Marty Balin strung out across the stage, it was as though a time warp had slipped the band back a decade. There were exhilarating versions of "Somebody to Love" and "Volunteers." And surely Balin's recent hits - "Miracles" and "Count On Me" - come awfully near the high-quality ballads he produced for the Airplane's earliest albums.
Too many bands have to get along with half a singer; in Slick and Balin, Starship has two extraordinary vocalists, the one a gutsy raunchy torcher, the other the clearest romantic tenor. Her "White Rabbit" was as powerful as ever, his version Wednesday of "Count On Me" infinitely more moving that the current single.
The opening act, singer-guitarist Bob Welch, must have been green with envy when his former Fleetwood Mac colleagues developed the Midas touch a couple of years ago, but he obviously intends to catch up.A crisp hour's set revealed Welch to be a much more powerful performer than his single hits would indicate.
Thanks in no small part to an especially strong band, Welch managed to transform the just-slightly-inspired "Ebony Eyes" into a sultry mating call. He still bears the harmonic stamp of Fleetwood Mac, and therefore would do well to hang on to his percussionist, Ron Green, who has a terrific voice.