Australia's Men At Work provided the Merriweather Post Pavilion with its first advance sellout of the season, and the 14,000 fans, perhaps sensing they were proxies for several million fans tuning in to a national radio hookup, greeted the group's 20-song set with delirious warmth.

There is a geniality and jolly fervor to the Men's best work. They are not particularly innovative, but their pub-bred instincts are undeniable; they have a knack for fusing catchy melodies and sometimes obtuse but more frequently clever lyrics in crowd-pleasing numbers.

Lead singer Collin Hay is both blessed and damned with a compelling voice that is at times too reminiscent of The Police's sting, particularly in its frequent neo-Jamaican inflection.

Drawing almost exclusively from their two platinum albums, Men At Work rendered their best songs with compulsive studio clarity. Strong efforts came on their breakthrough hit, the quirky, breezy "Who Can It Be Now?," "Underground," "Overkill," and the buoyantly folk-popish "Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive." Best of all was the band's current hit, the antinuke "It's a Mistake," powerfully played and chillingly augumented by the stand-up chorus of 14,000.

A number of other songs, however, lacked sufficient focus; they were mere suggestions of grooves and hooks unreconciled before those songs meandered to their conclusion. The Men also suffer from being one of the least charismatic stage bands in existence, somehow resisting their own insistent rhythms. It's as if they haven't had time to develop an arena persona. With potentially dynamic material and an already receptive audience waiting on either side, it's a central issue that begs imminent resolution. --Richard Harrington Men At Work

Australia's Men At Work provided the Merriweather Post Pavilion with its first advance sellout of the season, and the 14,000 fans, perhaps sensing they were proxies for several million fans tuning in to a national radio hookup, greeted the group's 20-song set with delirious warmth.

There is a geniality and jolly fervor to the Men's best work. They are not particularly innovative, but their pub-bred instincts are undeniable; they have a knack for fusing catchy melodies and sometimes obtuse but more frequently clever lyrics in crowd-pleasing numbers.

Lead singer Collin Hay is both blessed and damned with a compelling voice that is at times too reminiscent of The Police's sting, particularly in its frequent neo-Jamaican inflection.

Drawing almost exclusively from their two platinum albums, Men At Work rendered their best songs with compulsive studio clarity. Strong efforts came on their breakthrough hit, the quirky, breezy "Who Can It Be Now?," "Underground," "Overkill," and the buoyantly folk-popish "Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive." Best of all was the band's current hit, the antinuke "It's a Mistake," powerfully played and chillingly augumented by the stand-up chorus of 14,000.

A number of other songs, however, lacked sufficient focus; they were mere suggestions of grooves and hooks unreconciled before those songs meandered to their conclusion. The Men also suffer from being one of the least charismatic stage bands in existence, somehow resisting their own insistent rhythms. It's as if they haven't had time to develop an arena persona. With potentially dynamic material and an already receptive audience waiting on either side, it's a central issue that begs imminent resolution.