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POP MUSIC REVIEW : John Entwistle Hides the Magic

July 16, 1988|DUNCAN STRAUSS

John Entwistle was never exactly the most animated or commanding performer during the Who years, but now that the bassist is leading his own outfit--as opposed to moonlighting between Who duties--you'd think he'd exert a bit more presence and adopt a more active role.

Wrong. There were a few instances Thursday at the Strand in Redondo Beach when the John Entwistle Band seemed aptly named, but most of the time it simply operated as a group that the ex-Who bassist just happened to be in.

Throughout the first half of the show, the bearded bassist (who plays the Country Club tonight and the Coach House on Tuesday) didn't take one lead vocal and didn't speak to the crowd. For the most part, he stood off to the side and produced extraordinary, busy bass lines in a stolid, vaguely disconnected manner--just as he always has.

Then came the request for Entwistle's dark ditty "Boris the Spider." He moved to center stage, sang the song (looking surprisingly comfortable), then actually spoke to the audience, if only to announce with embarrassment, "We've had another request for my singing."

And with that, he and his quartet lit into "The Quiet One." But then Entwistle retreated from the spotlight for another stretch.

If you didn't know Entwistle was involved, you might think this was just an average quintet with a brilliant bassist and a handful of solid Who/Entwistle tunes thrown in among its faceless, unexceptional hard-rock songs.

Somehow, that doesn't seem like John Entwistle taking his best shot.

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