"It's not easy writing a mild song," Livingston Taylor confessed at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night. "We're talking competition here--'Mary Had a Little Lamb,' 'The Theme From Romper Room.' " Taylor didn't go on to mention the hits of Air Supply, the Australian band that followed him on stage, but he could have. After all, Air Supply's songs are nothing if not mild.

The seven-piece band packs the usual accessories: smoke bombs, a light show, a lavish set--in this case, fabricated boulders strewn across the stage. But the heart of the show was an undistinguished series of polite, preppy, immensely palatable love songs, played back-to-back to the utter delight of the large and predominantly teen-aged crowd. Russell Hitchcock sent young hearts aflutter with his lofty, nasal crooning, while his partner and fellow heartthrob Graham Russell elicited a similar response simply by parading his lanky six-foot-plus frame across the stage. True to its name, the band fanned the flames of teen romance and little more.

Taylor, on the other hand, seems to relish the role of an old-fashioned songster. He mixed wonderfully whimsical ditties like "If I Only Had a Brain" and a breathless "Railroad Bill" with his own lighthearted material, all the while animating his performance with elastic gestures and humourous asides.