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POP MUSIC REVIEW : An Engaging Debut for Ceremony

April 30, 1993|JIM WASHBURN

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Without hearing them, there's a good deal not to like about the band Ceremony. Its writer-singers, Chastity Bono and mono-monikered Chance, have backgrounds in cloistered drama and arts schools, but haven't been bothered much with that messy business of actually playing music for people. Bono also bears the burden of having grown up with rich and famous parents Sonny and Cher, which--sorry--doesn't quite tug at the heartstrings the way the Billie Holiday story does.

And for a band to be making its debut gig after recording its major-label debut album smacks of the formulaic process that recently brought us Nelson, Wilson Phillips and other too-perfect, packaged products.

All that said, Ceremony's debut on Wednesday at the Coach House was a fairly engaging affair. The group's upcoming Geffen album, "Hang Out Your Poetry," is a tuneful, predigested blend of ELO and the Bangles, and in concert, fortunately, the group tends toward the latter band's buoyant '60s pop sound.

Bono and Chance appear to be virtual twins, dressing nearly alike and wearing the same '60s "Cher hair." Unlike her mom, Chastity's no belter, but she and Chance nimbly traded lead vocals, emphasizing harmony over personality, and their four bandmates fleshed out the music with a tight group sound and more than a little invention.

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