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Unbothered by brief delay, audience greets quirky B-52s with adulation

It is almost a natural law that rock concerts won't start at the advertised times.

Usually the schedule is more of a goal to be achieved than a promise to be kept. That's why it was a pleasure to see the timely way that things rolled out for Friday night's Canal Concert Series with The B-52s.

There were three supporting bands on the bill and, starting at 6 p.m., the groups each came on, ran through their 40 to 45 minutes of gig time before giving up the stage so that the next band could set up and begin playing at the top of the hour. The only exception came when the B-52s took an extra 20 minutes to set up their staging.

Nobody in the audience, which swelled in size as the evening wore on, seemed worried by the delay. When the band finally strolled onto the stage and kicked the set into high gear, there were no complaints, only adulation. It became a love fest as the area in front of the stage became a destination for migrating bodies seeking their party fix from a band known to deliver the goods.

The crowd was there to experience "Rock Lobster," "Private Idaho," "Pump" and other B-52s classics, to absorb the absurdist wordplay, the fractured vocal lines and punched up rhythms that are hallmarks of the band's style. If Lord Buckley had been a rock poet instead of a jazz comedian, he might have come up with lyrics that surpassed the twisted, comedic and deceptively sexy world view expressed by the B-52s in their songs. But I wouldn't bet on it.

The singing of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson combined with Fred Schneider's Sprechtstimme [what the composer Arnold Schoenberg called that space between speech and song] to create a unique vocal mix that is to be found nowhere else in pop music. Keith Strickland's quirky guitar lines helped further define the band's originality, while the hired-hand rhythm section of bassist Tracy Wormworth, drummer Sterling Campbell and keyboard maven Paul Gordon were superlative in support.

The Evil Things, a young group from Lockport with influences that appeared to range from reggae to cow punk to Americana inflected vignettes began the evening with a set that promised more in the future than what they were able to do in the present. It will be interesting to watch their progress.

In contrast, the two other bands on the bill were more polished.

More Than Me has toured relentlessly during the past decade, developing a stage presence and songwriting that could easily have them following in the same path as acts like Maroon 5 and Train, although there were moments when they verged on the bonhomie of the Jonas Brothers.

As a unit, the Jamie Moses Band was tight, focused and effective. This was especially evident when the group hammered into a set of rock-inflected blues riffs with talented lead singer Caitlin Koch and speed merchant guitarist Ron LoCurto trading licks.


The B-52's

With More Than Me and Jamie Moses. Part of the Molson Canal Concert Series. Friday evening at the Ulrich City Center Courtyard in Lockport.

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