Playing with her new band, Exene Cervenka felt free to go prospecting among different roles and styles at the Coach House without worrying too much about the burden of her old group X's track record as a punk rock scene-setter or a failed aspirant to the commercial mainstream.
Oh, the audience wasn't bashful about shouting for X favorites between numbers, but it didn't seem too disappointed when Cervenka and her three-man band (including fellow X-alum Tony Gilkyson) stuck resolutely to her well-balanced solo album, "Old Wives' Tales." Cervenka eventually showed that she was a sport by tossing in a fun, crowd-pleasing version of X's countrified "Skin Deep Town."
The 75-minute Friday night show moved comfortably from pretty protest-folk to beat poetry backed by avant-blues stylings, to twangy country settings. In a few harder-charging moments, Cervenka stepped back into the role of the shimmying-stepping, head-shaking rocker that she had played in X. The only drawback to the performance after a shaky start was the heavy-handedness of some of Cervenka's topical broadsides.