In the '90s, hard-rock subgenres were usually classified by adding the suffixes "metal" or "core" to such words as "speed," "death" or "grind." Recently, however, there's been a renaissance of melodic hard rock, exemplified by bands such as Our Lady Peace, the veteran Canadian quartet that played the first of two sold-out nights Tuesday at the 9:30 club. The band opened with the thudding chords of "All for You," a song whose Black Sabbath-like intro quickly yielded to a sprightly tune -- and whose lyrics invoke Kerouac rather than Satan.
That song's mingling of aggression and sensitivity is typical of Our Lady Peace's fifth and latest album, "Gravity," which provided the material for much of the nearly two-hour set. Supplemented by a rhythm guitarist and an occasional prerecorded keyboard riff, the group matched crunching or stinging metal guitar to sweeping choruses that recalled the mid-'70s work of the Who and David Bowie.
Our Lady Peace didn't display exceptional stage presence, and the set's pacing was a little slack. But singer Raine Maida seized the crowd's attention by clambering from the stage to the balcony, singing while hanging from the railing and then plunging into the happy throng beneath him. Such stunts aside, it was the songs that won the night. While some bands struggle to get audiences to warble a two-line refrain, Maida didn't have to beg to get the fans to sing entire verses, and finally every word of "4 A.M.," the last encore. That was the sort of communal moment that no grind-core band would ever inspire.
-- Mark Jenkins