POP MUSIC REVIEWS : That Petrol Emotion Back on Right Track

No apologies were asked for and none were explicitly given by That Petrol Emotion during its show Sunday at the Whisky. But the buoyant and celebratory set served as an implicit mea culpa for past transgressions as serious as they come in rock: self-indulgence and failing to live up to potential.

A few years ago, the band--descended from Belfast's punk-era boy wonders the Undertones--seemed one of the most promising "alternative" guitar-oriented rock acts, with a style at once incendiary and soothing, political and romantic. But with 1989's "End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues" album and tour, the quintet seemed lost in unattractive rhetoric and unconvincing funk. How the group feels about that now was clear from the number of selections they played Sunday from that album: none.

Instead, the Petrols concentrated on material from the fine new "Chemicrazy" album, from the hard groove of "Tingle" to the inexplicably successful hybrid of sensual joy and political anger in "Hey Venus." Throughout, singer Steve Mack danced exuberantly, flailing his long blond dreadlocked Mohawk, clearly confident that the band is back on the right track and living up to its vivid name.

And for the cherry on top: a spry version of the Beatles' proto-metal "Hey Bulldog" and an encore of Iggy Pop's appropriate "Lust for Life." Apology accepted.

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