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Right Music, Wrong Audience for Tiffany

Times Staff Writer

Tiffany hit ‘em with her best shot right at the start Saturday at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim, opening with three punchy rock songs that made it seem for a moment as if the 17-year-old kid-pop star might really have a future in rock ‘n’ roll.

With the six musicians backing her cranking out energetic, barroom-style rock, Tiffany could have been an unknown, novice rocker on the road to finding her feet as a performer, and having some fun doing it.

The problem was that Tiffany’s punch knocked the wind out of her predominantly pre-teen audience. Instead of whooping it up while she rolled through “Oh Jackie” and “We’re Both Thinking of Her” from the second of her two platinum albums, most of the fans remained inert in their seats. Averaging little more than half the singer’s age, Tiffany’s core crowd is probably not ready for rough and tough stuff yet.

As the show went on, Tiffany obliged with ballads, dance pop and a too-long oldies medley. The fans were quickly put at ease, and they began a nonstop pilgrimage through the aisles to the apron of the circular, rotating stage, where Tiffany obliged one and all with a smile and a touch of a not-so-old friend’s hand.

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After her surprisingly hard-rocking start, Tiffany meandered through an unimpressive 60-minute hodgepodge in which she tried on a succession of vocal styles, from Madonna to Ronnie Spector to Stevie Nicks. Whatever guise she chooses, Tiffany needs to strengthen a voice that frequently lapsed into forced bleating when she tried to hold a high note.

Tiffany as bar rocker might not be such a bad idea, especially because those opening songs showed that she has some instinct for it. The 9-year-olds may not be able to get through a gin-mill door, but the singer just might learn things about performing that she never will in a gilded cage.

Tiffany doesn’t need to pay the barroom dues that almost any other singer her age would be facing, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t profit from it.

How about it Tiff: Go to college, start a pick-up band. It’s a time-honored tradition, and you’ll get a nice respite from being picked on by old-fogy pop critics.

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