It was a strange scene in the audience during Daniel Ash’s concert at the Roxy on Monday: People held their hands, napkins, menus--just about anything--in front of their faces to shield their eyes from the intensely bright lights the Love & Rockets singer-guitarist had aimed into the crowd. It was like a roomful of deer caught in headlights.
It’s a shame that Ash, playing with his own band while L&R; is on hiatus, couldn’t blind the gathering with his talent instead. He has a facility and affection for classic garage-rock simplicity, but uses it with little imagination.
Monday, he not only borrowed the descending chorus progression from the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man” in both his opening number (“Get Out of Control”) and closer (“The Hedonist”), but then encored with that group’s biggest hit, “Gimme Some Lovin’,” saddling that song with a stiff, plodding beat.
At least it has a great hook. Few of Ash’s own songs do, and they tend to go nowhere, working a riff to death with little sense of direction. Even that sense of dark tension that characterizes Love & Rockets’ best songs was missing. All there was to take home was that brightness-induced headache.
The Vancouver-based quintet Pure was much more intriguing in its opening set, coming off in the mold of England’s EMF or Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, but lacking a great song or two that could establish its own identity.