The grinds were becoming a grind for Engelbert last year. Twenty-eight pounds overweight, he donned his sweat suit and dropped the excess poundage, including his weighty last name. Last night, the new Engelbert showed off the results as he opened a two-night stand at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Same old Engelbert.

Comic Dick Capri, Engelbert's warmup act for the last six years, is slick and serves strictly Vegas schtick, but he's likeable. Don't wander in late - he rolls off a fun half hour.

Then, the "King of Romance" takes the stage. You can't fool Engelbert on etiquette. He knows and appreciates his people. As his hits follow one another, he mugs, patters, invites ladies onstage and accommodates every request anyone could make-in public-of a traveling heartthrob. One lady's dress strap broke onstage. She didn't care.

The music? Well, either you like it or you don't. Songwriters design Engelbert's songs so he can hold those notes that blast the initiated into seventh heaven. Last night Engelbert was in strong voice and not just the hardcore fans in front got an earful.

Unfortunately, he's a weak comic, but his fans appreciate the weakness - they treat him like a new kid who's trying hard. No such indulgence, though, is required by his impersonations. They're surprisingly good.

Engelbert entertains his audience with, as he says, "the gift that God was good enough to give me," for a healthy hour and a half. He's still a bit soft around his well-displayed middle. But he seems to have nothing to worry about.Nobody threw a bra onstage, but no one threw a sweat suit either.