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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Millermania Also Strikes the Young

July 31, 1993|STEVE HOCHMAN

While introducing his 1968 hit "Living in the U.S.A." early in his show at the Greek Theatre on Thursday, Steve Miller recounted some of the events of that tumultuous year, and then asked the sold-out crowd, "Remember that?"

About half of the boisterous fans, though, were so young that they might not even remember 1978 , which means they weren't listening to the radio in Miller's mid-'70s glory years. And yet they seemed to know every word to every song he and his tight six-man band played-- especially such mid-'70s hits as "Fly Like an Eagle," "Take the Money and Run" and "Jet Airliner."

Miller doesn't even have the Grateful Dead's enduringly romantic hippie mythos or Jimmy Buffet's obvious aging frat-boy appeal to help explain the burst of Millermania of recent years. Despite affecting an Orbisonesque look with black clothes and dark shades Thursday--the first of two sold-out Greek shows--he remains perhaps pop's ultimate regular guy.

The trick, apparently, is how well he walks that fine and perilous line between the dismissibly average and the winningly egalitarian. There's nothing really tricky or challenging about his songs, but they're undeniably catchy and sing-alongable, hit after hit, hook after hook, with even the songs from his new "Wide River" album sticking close to the formula. They're songs that may not change anyone's life, but as was clear Thursday, they've become part of many lives. Steve Miller and band will be at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on Sunday.

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