Robert Palmer, the stylish rock singer who appeared at Constitution Hall last night, is like a well-stocked bar. One song will go down smooth, while the next will have a fearsome kick to it. Another song will be bubbly, while yet another has a hidden, accumulative power. When one leaves his presence, the buzz that follows is almost inevitable.
Unfortunately, too much of last night's buzz was of the headache variety, due to an atrociously loud and horrendously mixed sound system that all but obscured Palmer's superb vocal abilities. Palmer, although an Englishman, has absorbed the nuances and rhythmic compulsions of classic soul music without mimicking it. As a result, he moves easily between the roles of shouter and crooner, most often settling in a funky middle ground.
Palmer has much the same appeal as Little Feat -- substitute "dancin'" in his version of their "Sailin' Shoes" and you have his basic work ethic. Although he's been making outstanding solo albums since 1974, Palmer has only recently received the sustained attention he deserves. With the current success of "Under Suspicion" and "Bad Case of Lovin' You (Doctor Doctor), Palmer's bright and bouncy rock energy is not only kindly, but exceedingly welcome.