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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Deee-Lite: A Night of Day-Glo

TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC

Deee-Lite was a Disaaa-Pointment.

The New York trio Deee-Lite may be at the heart of what’s new and exciting in dance music on record, but as a live act it may be about 30 years too late.

Deee-Lite, whose perky “Groove Is in the Heart” and “Good Beat” are wonderfully exhilarating dance-pop exercises, would have been ideal for the old rock ‘n’ roll package shows of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

That’s when a dozen acts would each come out for about 15 minutes, dazzle you with their best numbers and then head for the bus.

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At the Hollywood Palladium on Sunday, two-thirds of Deee-Lite (Jungle DJ Towa Towa isn’t on the tour) most certainly dazzled the capacity crowd with their three or four catchiest numbers, but then they stuck around for another hour--and that wasn’t a delight, regardless of how you spell it.

This was a classic case of a concert’s offering about six months of anticipation and 15 minutes of payoff.

The anticipation was built through months of hearing the key tracks from Deee-Lite’s seductive and smart “World Clique” album--and you could sense the eagerness of the crowd on the way into the Palladium.

Deee-Lite’s dance music ties and cartoonish pop-art costumes may lead some to dismiss the trio as frivolous, but the group backs its colorful images on record with some witty, imaginative music that celebrates individuality and hope as weapons against conformity and despair.

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Without taking stands on social issues, the music tries to inspire you by lifting your spirits and making you feel a sense of community.

Let the people call me naive, Lady Miss Kier declares in one song, underscoring her own social optimism. I believe, I believe .

In keeping with the music’s celebration, many in the audience dressed up in their own version of Deee-Lite fashion, which meant a lot of Day-Glo, thrift-shop and flower-power looks, all woven together from a sort of space-age Jetsons sensibility.

Eager to show off their creations, many party-minded fans circled the Palladium parking lot like peacocks. It’s a good thing they took advantage of the room outside, because it was too dark and crowded on the dance floor for anyone to notice what someone else was wearing.

Before Deee-Lite made its entrance, Ultra Nate, a trio singing to prerecorded backing tracks, got things off to a slow start, generating less dance-floor momentum than the Sly Stone and Jane’s Addiction records played during intermission.

Deee-Lite’s lead singer Lady Miss Kier and keyboarist-guitarist Super DJ Dimtry seemed to have everything in place for a knockout when they walked on stage with a five-piece band, featuring celebrated bassist Bootsy Collins, shortly before 10 p.m.

But almost everything went wrong--from the unevenness of the material to the momentum, which seemed to break down after every tune, as Kier went off stage for yet another costume change (five in all) or as the musicians stood around in the dark getting things in place for the next number.

Even worse was the duo’s stiffness. Kier, surprisingly orrr-dinary as a singer and dancer, may have a lot of costumes, but she doesn’t seem to have much of a stage personality. There were a few traces of Carol Channing giddiness, but mostly she seemed just blank, resorting to such silly patter as “Any Capricorns out there tonight?”

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In fact, one routine and song about astrological signs was so long that the only sign that you started looking for was the one marked exit . Jungle DJ Towa Towa was probably right to stay home. He must have realized that there was nothing to add to the record.


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