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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Rogers' Fans Enjoy Predictable Concert

March 11, 1994|DON HECKMAN

Maybe Kenny Rogers needs a new writer--or at least some new shtick.

The opening-night performance of Rogers' second annual five-night run at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday was a near carbon copy of the show he brought to the same venue last February--a show he probably could do in his sleep.

Did it matter to his audience? Not at all.

They loved every minute, every song, every predictable gag. Even when Rogers is doing little more than working his casual way through the well-known catalogue of hits--from "Lucille" to "Ruby" to "The Gambler"--he is the kind of performer who generates undying, all-accepting love from his listeners.

But why isn't the loyalty Rogers receives from his fans rewarded with a bit more effort on his part?

In his finer moments, briefly apparent in his versions of "Lady" and an unexpectedly subtle rendering of the standard "When I Fall in Love," Rogers revealed that he is still capable of setting aside all the prepackaged jokes, comments and asides, and singing with musical understanding, subtlety and warmth.

Fast-rising, honky-tonk-style, country singer Sammy Kershaw opened the show with a congenial, straight-from-the-gut performance filled with the kind of sincere, unmanipulative passions that were too often lacking in Rogers' set.

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