Loverboy, the Canadian quintet that zoomed into the hard rock hierarchy two years ago on the strength of its insistent teen anthems, shows little sign of abating its passion for high-energy power pop.
Playing before 14,000 sweat- and rain-drenched fans at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night, Loverboy continued to tap the adolescent pulse through hook-laden songs topped by catchy and easy-to-remember choruses that often approached sloganeering.
In fact, the last part of the concert was as much a sing-along as any Mitch Miller program, starting with the band's newest hit, "Hot Girls in Love" and proceeding through "Turn Me Loose," "Working for the Weekend," "When It's Over" and the appropriate finale, "The Kid Is Hot Tonite." If the lyrics don't exactly match up to Stephen Sondheim, they do address youthful aspirations and anxieties in rock 'n' roll basics that are easy to identify with.
Loverboy is not particularly original--it comes across as souped-up Foreigner or Bad Company--but its been clever in advancing its mix of pop and posture. The group's pro forma stage moves and fundamental riffs betray its many years on the bar band circuit and its musicianship is certainly more solid than spectacular. Singer Mike Reno is powerfully direct but guitarist Paul Dean's solos were a tired melange of rock histrionics.
Still, the ensemble sound was refreshingly unaffected, muscular without being blustery, a swirl of controlled restlessness that borrowed equally from hard pop and heavy metal without indulging in the excesses of either. Loverboy is tasteful, powerful, mainstream rock at its most accessible.