It may have been cold and rainy Sunday night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the several thousand young fans assembled to hear Paul Young. They cheered the tape of "Singin' in the Rain" that preceded his appearance, they roared as he slid across the stage on his knees, and they swooned as he stripped off his jacket.

But what they went wildest over was the sound he produced, and with good reason. Even at a time when the charts are clogged with crooners, Young's gritty passion and vocal polish stand out from the crowd. Part of it is his genuine affection for American R&B, which was manifested in everything from his soulful soliloquy on "Wherever I Lay My Hat" to the lush harmony vocals that fleshed out "Everything Must Change." But what really set his performance on fire was the way he pushed beyond those influences, for from "Come Back and Stay" to "Every Time You Go Away," Young demonstrated that he was eminently capable of approaching the genre on his own terms. Indeed, Young proved himself beyond the easy gloss of his albums, investing a passion in his performance so packed with visceral power that by the show's end there was no question that Paul Young was more than just another teen idol.