Few things age faster than an ostentatious rock band. No rock bands were ever more ostentatious than the British art-rock groups of the mid-'70s. Thus the British art-rock quintet, Renaissance, sounded like an embarrassing anachronism at the Wax Museum last night. The lyrics, which once passed as literary, now seemed trite; the classical influences, once described as artistic, now seemed like gimmicks.
Three original members--vocalist Annie Haslam, bassist Jon Camp and guitarist Michael Dunford--were joined by newcomers Gavin Harrison on drums and Mick Taylor on keyboards. Old songs like "Can You Hear Me Call" seemed a bit musty and kitschy. The techno-pop edge added to new songs like "Missing Persons" came across as just one more gimmick in the mix. Haslam's lush five-octave voice was once the best reason to hear Renaissance, but last night her tone was thin and she kept missing high notes.
There are few things as pointless as a new band persuing a bankrupt musical genre. Yet that's just what Encounter, a local quintet, did in the first set. They played ostentatious art-rock very well--even better than Renaissance, actually--but it still sounded pretentious and boring.