In its minimalism and indeterminacy, the very name of Matt Johnson's group--the The--suggests an ambitious open-endedness, and sure enough, at the Universal Amphitheatre on Friday the Englishman applied his sharp, rumbling croon to questions of existential dread, human drives, social and political structures. . . .
Good questions, a good band, a unique musical blend--so why did the concert seem so uninvolving? It might be that Johnson's aspirations outdistance his inspiration. He evokes Bowie in his musical design, and Bryan Ferry and Morrissey in his depiction of human isolation, but he lacks the flair and charisma that would convey his concerns with theatrical force.