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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Datsuns drive home the rock beat

April 14, 2003|Natalie Nichols | Special to The Times

"Hello there, ladies and gents, are you ready to rock?" sang New Zealand rocker Dolf Datsun, as his band, the Datsuns, loudly introduced itself to Saturday's capacity Troubadour crowd with the Cheap Trick '70s concert classic "Hello There."

The quartet's raucous hourlong set wasn't exactly "Live at Budokan," but it still prompted many listeners to hold up their fists and extend index fingers and pinkies in the age-old devil-horns symbol of rock-fan approval.

On this first of two scheduled consecutive nights, singer-bassist Dolf, guitarists Phil and Christian, and drummer Matt Datsun offered a taste of a different rock 'n' roll revival. Other than the Ramones-style shtick of using the band's title as their collective surname, they didn't much draw from the '60s-garage/'70s-punk fusion employed by so many buzzed-about acts from Scandinavia, Detroit, New York et al.

Instead, songs from the long-haired Datsuns' self-titled debut were more swaggering and fey, playful working-class party music celebrating the holy trinity of good times: sex, drugs and ... well, you know. Such numbers as "Sittin' Pretty" and the percussive "Harmonic Generator" evoked the twin-lead-guitar power of Thin Lizzy and the raunchy anthems of T-Rex. But the performance also had a Who-like sense of anarchy, as well as traces of untidy, Mudhoney- esque grunge.

As appealing as many tunes were, the show reflected the music's use-'em-and-lose-'em stance by providing a fleeting thrill rather than an enduringly memorable experience.

But it sure was fun while it lasted.

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