Though long dismissed by rock purists as a lightweight teen idol, Miguel Mateos demonstrated Thursday at the Palace that he is returning to the serious rock approach that he exhibited years ago with the band Zas in Argentina.
Backed by a solid quintet, Mateos, who is in his early 30s, played some of his older, conventional pop-rock that reminds you of, among others, John Mellencamp--back when the Indiana rocker called himself Johnny Cougar.
On the newer material, however, Mateos offered a more purposeful and revealing style--something akin to the more mature Mellencamp. "Lola," Thursday's opening number, is a passionate, hard-rocking tale of a woman who was sexually abused by her father.
The Argentine's highly melodic arrangements contain fewer overt Latin influences than most of the Spanish-language rockers gaining attention in this country display, but he does use subtle touches, including the Caribbean feel of the moving ballad "Let the Heart Talk."
Because he did so many old songs, the Palace show was uneven, but it might have been a farewell to an era. If Mateos begins focusing on the new material, he may finally be ready to assume a true leadership role in Spanish-language rock.