The book on Pat Travers is super guitar, so-so imagination. In terms of energy and immediacy, his sold-out concert at the Wax Museum last night was a vast improvement over recent studio-bound efforts. The sound was rougher and tougher, but the songs and the singing seemed dreadfully formulaic; Travers' lightning runs and deft displays of string-bending alleviated the tedium but did not obscure it.
Rose Tattoo, an Australian quintet, concocted its cocky rock from familiar formulas as well, but invested them with enough new ingredients to suggest a future rather than a past. The group's power chords were big enough to support a Mack truck and loud enough to set the kangaroos at home to jumping; Pete Wells' prominent slide guitar work pulsated through a head-on attack that was sometimes as unremitting as a Sunday-morning hangover. But Rose Tattoo's swagger was delightfully reminiscent of Rod Stewart and the Faces when all their edges were as mean and sharp as a shattered window pane, boogie with just enough woogie to keep the energy high and the beer flowing.
Best of all was Rose Tattoo's bald brawler, lead singer Angry Anderson, a short pint packing the wallop of an undiluted fifth. Sounding as warmly abrasive as a sawed-off Stewart, Anderson beat his chest and delivered whiplash lyrics as credos, sometimes bitter and frustrated in the manner of the early Stones ("Branded," "Scarred for Life," "Rock & Roll Is King") but mostly with the unbridled party energy of the Faces. The diminutive desperado and his tattooed boys delivered maximum rock 'n' roll; they will be heard from again.