Imagine that George Harrison hired a southern boogie singer, a young guitar whiz and a grab bag of journeymen session players and billed them as the "Beatles II." Imagine that you paid good money to see this band, but they only played newly written, heavy metal sludge with the exception of a mangled encore version of "Paperback Writer." Wouldn't you feel cheated?

Well, Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane has hired a similar cast of characters and billed them as the "Jefferson Starship." At the Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night, they played heavy metal sludge and no Airplane or Starship classics except a mangled encore of "Somebody to Love." Cheated is the mildest description for the experience.

Mickey Thomas is the southern boogie singer that Kantner hired from the Elvin Bishop Band. Saturday, Thomas sang in the same high siren wail used by every heavy metal singer to ever unbutton his shirt. The kid guitarist was Craig Chaquico; the journeymen were bassist Pete Sears, keyboardist David Freiberg and drummer Aynsley Dunbar. Their only tribute to the '60s came in overly long and overly indulgent solos.

The Jefferson Airplane was once a seminal rock band. Even the early Stairship was an appealing pop band. The current Starship is a fraud. Grace Slick is gone; Marty Balin is gone; Jack Casady is long gone; even the songs are gone. Kantner should have the courage to admit it's over.