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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Pianist Lanz Still Playing Same Routine

October 20, 1995|DON HECKMAN

THOUSAND OAKS — "I'm kind of a SNAG," said David Lanz at the start of his solo concert at the Forum Theatre of the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday night. "You know . . . a Sensitive New Age Guy."

He was right about that. Shoulder-length gray hair, a Byronesque profile and a flowing poet's shirt set the stage pretty well for the sensitive part. And Lanz's music, which has cruised the top of Billboard's new age album charts for the last decade, perfectly defined the remainder of the acronym.

But Lanz needs to think about getting his act together. It's bad enough that his program was virtually identical to the one he played at Royce Hall three years ago, but duplicating much of the same rap and hitting the same feeble joke lines is just not taking care of business as a performer.

Still, the overflow crowd loved most of it--including Lanz's somewhat stiff piano playing.

Why was the audience so pleased? Perhaps because in a world in which media too often punches out sights and sounds with machine-gun rapidity, Lanz offered an easygoing, accessible alternative entertainment with the undemanding simplicity of a nursery rhyme.

Pieces such as "Leaves on the Seine," "Cristofori's Dream" and "Return to the Heart" demonstrated his capacity to build ear-candy melodies by repeatedly sequencing rudimentary two- and four-bar phrases into extended themes. It's not a technique that makes for very interesting music, but it clearly has generated a lot of success for at least one very prosperous SNAG.

* David Lanz plays tonight at the Center Theatre, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 8 p.m. $24.50. (310) 436-3636.

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