Paul Collins' Beat plays purebred transatlantic pop-rock with forthright gusto. At Desperado's last night, it demonstrated exactly how far you can take this music without resorting to irony or art.
The Beat made the most of a few basic ingredients. Songs like "Don't Wait Up for Me" and "The Kids Are the Same All Over the World" focused on Collins' strong lead vocals, which in turn focused on catchy, concise tunes.
The band's harmony singing was a constant source of pleasure: sweet yet tough, with more than a tinge of the backwoods. The caliber of musicianship was also impressive, especially the bass playing of Steve Huff. Huff provided the crucial melodic and rhythmic components of numbers like "Melissa," a hot Eddie Cochrane-inspired rocker.
At times, the lead guitarist got a bit out of hand, threatening to drown out the material's urgent lyricism with noisy, flash-fingered doodling. But in the end the tunes usually won out.
Type-O, a local outfit, opened the show with a set of tough-rocking originals. Although the singing was not always in tune and much of the songwriting was predictable and undistinguished, the band did put its heart into the performance.