Neither the Little River Band nor Pablo Cruise has much to offer that's musically or lyrically original. Both have a knack, though, for crafting catchy pop singles. Last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, the headlining Little River Band tried to go beyond pop craftmanship, but floundered with passages that lacked shape or momentum. Pablo Cruise, by contrast, kept its ambitions to the modest size of its talents and provided a lively, fun, frivolous set.
The Little River Band, an Australian septet, relied on precise arrangements of high-harmony vocals and melodic guitar phrases in the overbearing romantic style of the Hollies. Unfortunately, the arrangements sounded overly calculated. Big radio hits like "Reminiscing" and "Happy Anniversary" lapsed into pat formulas. More ambitious album cuts strained for drama without producing it.
Pablo Cruise, a California quintet, is better at the Doobie Brothers school of blue-eyed soul than more recent students like Christopher Cross and Robbie Dupree. With pianist Cory Lerios hamming it up Billy Joel-style and Dave Jenkins' grainy tenor shouting out, the band pumped up simple catchy melodies into enthusiastic, mindless party music. The band's newest songs were likable variations of old hits like "Whatcha Gonna Do" and "Love Will Find a Way."