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Wynonna, Bolton: Contrast in Romantic Style

Ersatz soul singer Michael Bolton and zany country diva Wynonna may not seem a logical pairing for a summer concert tour, but their show at the Greek Theatre on Wednesday revealed similarities that made sense of it all while exposing vast gulfs between their styles.

Both sets had the slick veneer of high production values, but if Wynonna’s had been stripped away, her formidable voice and a couple guitars could have still carried it off, whereas Bolton’s fine but slight tenor would fade away without support. Both focused on romance, but Wynonna’s hourlong set was by far the sexier.

In her glittery black costume, her nine-piece band never missing a beat, Wynonna alternated bluesy, almost Stones-like heat with vulnerable balladry, appearing to nearly break down during the sorrowful “Is It Over Yet.” Utterly accessible, she teased latecomers by going into the stands to escort them to their seats, and she happily accepted fans’ gifts.

Bolton was worshiped much more, but his 90-minute show wasn’t as much fun as Wynonna’s, partly because his own nine-piece band wasn’t as good, partly because he wasn’t as interested in his fans, but mostly because there was more soul in Wynonna’s chunky platform boots than in Michael’s entire performance.

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When Bolton reached deep inside, he hit ice. His renditions of classics such as “When a Man Loves a Woman” didn’t approach the resonant warmth of Percy Sledge’s classic. He fared better with upbeat numbers such as “Soul Provider,” but his brief rendition of arias taken from his recent opera collection, “My Secret Passion,” slowed the pace. It only proved that he still doesn’t understand that his technical ability has little bearing on the quality of his art.

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* Michael Bolton and Wynonna play tonight at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim. $30.50-$50.50. (714) 704-2400.


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