When a rock band's live album sounds as rich and as precisely sung and played as Oingo Boingo's new one, "Boingo Alive," it's natural to wonder whether any studio trickery went into producing that supposedly pure aural treat. The fact that Oingo Boingo made the double-album in a rehearsal studio instead of under fire in concert also raises the question.
If there was any sneaky business involved, it figured to be unmasked Friday night in the first of Oingo Boingo's two Halloween weekend shows at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. As it turned out, Boingo did use a number of taped rhythm embellishments and echo effects on stage--a sort of pine tar for rockers. But in Boingo's case, an obvious abundance of snap, skill and group craftsmanship confirmed the Los Angeles band as a first-rate live act, with or without artificial sonic additives. For most of the 2 1/2-hour show, leader Danny Elfman and the seven other Boingos had a varied, fast-paced party going that was unflaggingly catchy and danceable. But a long finishing stretch devoted to the band's monochromatic, hyper-frenetic early material made for a tiresome ending. Like "Boingo Alive," live Boingo could have benefited from less sprawl and more selectivity.