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Guided By Voices brought its indie-rock sound to a late Saturday night gig at the Showplace. Secret Garden featured new age music in a show at the University at Buffalo Performing Arts Center. Magic Red played some guitar blues Friday night at the Blues Room.


Guided by Voices
Indie-rock fans were handed a double treat when two icons performed at the Showplace Theatre Saturday night. It's been a long wait to see Guided by Voices, led by the estimable Robert Pollard, and Those Bastard Souls with Dave Shouse, who played Buffalo once years back with The Grifters.

The double-draw packed the Showplace with a crowd filled with musicians and industry folks, including some from as far away as Toronto.

Pollard and his latest Guided by Voices lineup worked through the enormous scope of his written material -- hundreds of songs may be a bit of an understatement -- to satisfy a vocal crowd that conversed en masse with Pollard between songs.

Pollard's vocals ranged from a fake British accent to a sweet pop styling as he saw fit. The guitar sounds changed as often as his vocals, from the dark, clunkiness of "In Stitches," to the catchy rock riff of the new "Do Something Real."

The amazing six-piece band Those Bastard Souls opened the night. The group is a visual wall of sound with five of the musicians standing in a line performing full force on keyboards, violin, guitars and bass.

"The Last Thing I Ever Wanted Was to Show Up and Blow Your Mind" was slow, dark and moody; a thick, bass line drove the heavy melody of "Curious State"; and "Train from Terminal Boredom" was loud and rockin' with the instruments pulsating in unison.

-- Toni Ruberto


Secret Garden
Secret Garden, like other groups under the PBS panoply, create New Age music that aspires to grandeur but settles for the thrust of artists like Yanni and John Tesch.

Led by Rolf Lovland and violinist Fionnuala Sherry, Secret Garden created a dreamscape of soft-edged melodies and diatonic chords that provided a sanctuary of relaxation Friday at UB's Center for the Arts.

Secret Garden's low-tension vehicles like "Nocturne," "Passacaglia," and "Aria" rely upon electronic processing for maximum impact. Dressed in matching leather pants, Sherry and Lovland musically created a tug of war that spotlighted the violinist whipping her blond hair like a conductor's baton to her impassioned bowing.

"Nocturne" is the archetype for many of Lovland's compositions. A plaintive oboe wail in a minor key lays a carpet of aural despair for Sherry's violin to weave into petals of hope. Which brings us to Lovland's musical philosophy best expressed in "Simplicity" with its film music vagueness that fosters visualization. A decent crowd was modestly enthusiastic for the two-set concert.

-- Jim Santella


Magic Red
Brendan Fitzpatrick, a.k.a. Magic Red, is a talented young guitarist who is adopting a very business-like approach to entertainment. His act prominently features flash pots, smoke, and strobe lights, all of which attempt to provide big concert virtues onto a small stage. This combined with flashes of high-volume guitar riffing, a tight little rhythm section, and a play-to-the-audience focus almost insures a successful bar tour.

So far, despite generating a fair number of Buffalo fans during his prior visits to the Queen City, "Magic Red" is still a work in progress.

Their approach to standards like "Who Do You Love?" and the classic rhythm and blues tune "There's A Riot Going On" expose a band that hasn't quite figured out how to get to the heart of the matter.

Still, there's plenty of time to mature and Magic Red certainly has the audience relationship skills to go along with his guitar slinging potential.

-- Garaud MacTaggart

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