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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Singer gets her party started

October 22, 2005|Natalie Nichols | Special to The Times

Songwriter-producer Linda Perry has instantly appealing modern hits to her credit, including Pink's celebratory "Get the Party Started" and Christina Aguilera's introspective "Beautiful," but her own material is more of an acquired taste. Making a rare live appearance Thursday at the Roxy, she showcased her moody, complex, 9-year-old album "In Flight," then capped the hourlong set of originals with 25 minutes of vintage Led Zeppelin.

Released by Interscope in 1996, "In Flight" was recorded after Perry scored an alt-pop hit, 1993's "What's Up?," as the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes. Now reissued by hot indie label Kill Rock Stars, the collection doesn't sound dated; in fact, its progressive bombast fits well on the fringes of current pop.

The tunes Perry played during the sold-out show were an odd amalgam of eccentric and generic: The set-opening "In My Dreams," for example, reflected her Zeppelin appreciation in its sweeping, quiet-loud dynamic shifts, while expressing the sort of universal sentiment -- imagining a better world -- captured by the hits she's helmed for others.

The spiky-haired singer-songwriter played guitar and keyboards, backed by a five-piece band and a string quartet. The stormy blend of rock and classical instrumentation was effectively atmospheric, but the bleak, meditative tunes often went on too long, and the string quartet mostly created melancholy undercurrents without adding nuance.

But the party didn't really get started until the encore, when Perry and her group morphed into a bizarre sort of bar band, joyfully banging out Zep chestnuts such as "Whole Lotta Love," "The Immigrant Song" and "Rock and Roll."

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