There are some ornery cusses who would suggest that rock 'n' roll is a loud, immature, artistically questionable musical form, played by tone-deaf musicians for just plain deaf listeners. Based on the slow last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, they would be understating the matter.
April Wine, the headlining group, started with blasting, heavy metal guitar chord and progressed (if that is the proper word) through a series of selections overloaded with screeching solos and macho vocals. The group drew heavily from led Zeppelin among others and the grand finale quoted directly from "Day Tripper" and "Satisfaction." All of the songs were played at excruciating volume. This is one Canadian group that could (and should) have stayed at home -- they could have been heard all the way from Montreal.
Throughout the performance the musicians cavorted about on a game show-like set that featured smoke bombs, swirling lights, strobes and an overhead display with the group's name emblazoned in glittering lights. At any moment, one expected to hear Johnny Olsen yelling "Come on down!"
Franke and the Knockouts opened the evening with an equally dismal musical display. Franke proved to be a lightweight pop vocalist. Backing him up, the Knockouts churned out distorted, punch-drunk rock 'n' roll. Give this group the bell.