As rock reunions go, the Animals' concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion was remarkably alive.

Hardly a shred of mid-'60s sentimentality was evident. Instead, the band--now nine pieces strong, including its five original members--seemed intent on establishing an '80s identity for itself.

Even when vocalist Eric Burdon was busy resurrecting "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," or transforming the old Elvis Presley song "Tryin' to Get to You" into a big, swaggering blues number, there was no denying the group's contemporary spirit or drive.

As for Burdon, he remains something of a rock phenomenon. Two decades of singing at the top of his lungs haven't diminished his stamina. His gravelly, half-sung, half-spoken narratives, which were often punctuated by either a searing sax break or bluesy fills by keyboard player Alan Price, drew raucous responses every time Burdon turned to a hit such as "House of the Rising Sun."

But more encouraging and surprising were the new songs. The art-rock pretentiousness that occasionally marred Burdon's solo work never surfaced. Hard rock songs such as "The Night" and appealing reggae tunes written by Price may well bring the Animals a new audience--a generation younger than their first.