If his songs weren't reasonably well-crafted, it would be easy to dismiss Rick Springfield as just another example of pretty-boy pop. It's true that at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night Springfield's minor songs were greeted with screams; hits such as "Jessie's Girl" and "Don't Talk to Strangers" and "Calling All Girls" were greeted with thunderous screams; significant moves such as a hitch of the shoulders or a jerk of the knee were greeted with agitated thunderous screams, which confirms Springfield as a teen idol with talent--as much a rarity now as it was in Fabian's heyday.

Though he's quit the soaps for now, Springfield still knows how to work his audience into a lather with taut, power pop melodies paced by gruff, stinging guitar phrases and sparkling keyboard splashes fighting it out under his urgent vocals.

As a songwriter, he continues to display solid pop instincts with the unconventional twist of hard-edged verses counterbalanced with hook-laden and generally sweet choruses. It's irresistible hard pop, three-minute compressions of rhythm and rhyme delivered with appealing geniality. Though a sameness tends to creep in after a while--actually after a short while--the Springfield story has become much like one of his simplistic songs: boy meets girls, girls love boy, boy loses girls when he moves on to the next venue. It hardly gets rougher than a tentative kiss. Rick Springfield, who is to return to the Merriweather Post Pavilion tonight, is harmless and entertaining.