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Pop Music Review : Hard Work And High Energy Of Peter Allen

July 28, 1987|DON HECKMAN

Peter Allen's Renaissance-man talents were on full display Sunday night during the singer/songwriter/dancer/comedian's appearance at the Universal Amphitheatre.

Allen's string of hit songs--from "Don't Cry Out Loud" and "I Honestly Love You" to the title theme from the film "Arthur" and the Frank Sinatra classic "You And Me (We Wanted It All)"--has more than confirmed his skill as a craftsman of slightly syrupy contemporary love ballads.

Sunday night's program, however, provided a different, considerably more colorful perspective on Allen's music, most noticeably in the bright samba rhythms of "I Go to Rio," the sophistication of "Don't Wish Too Hard" and the whimsical bawdiness of "Knockers."

Backed by a crisp-sounding 11-piece band and sounding a bit out of sorts vocally, Allen compensated for occasional hoarse notes and errant pitches with a flurry of physical activities, pacing the stage like a revivalist preacher, tap-dancing, strutting and doing slow-motion aerobics on top of the piano.

His throwaway one-liners were good enough to use as the basis of a stand-up comedy act, and his piano playing was always serviceable--sometimes better than that.

Good as it was as entertainment, Allen's act seemed short on heart--a flurry of energy and action that never quite disguised the feeling that he was only going through the motions. Hard worker that he is, Allen always gives value-plus to his enthusiastic audiences, but this time around there was too much of the performance and too little of the performer.

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