The Tangerine Dream show at The Sting Wednesday night, the first U.S. stop of the band's current North American tour, was not unlike the Hartford Whalers' opening night the day before.
Laser lights were important parts of the entertainment, and both would have been better if the performers had shown a little more emotion.
Luckily for the sizable crowd at the New Britain night spot, their event was much more successful than the Whalers' drubbing at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.
Led by band founding member Edgar Froese, the electronic rockers alternately wailed and wafted through about two hours of music.
The show was not without its quirks. Except for the breaks, the music never stopped once it had begun. Musical interludes -- some reminiscent of the band's early style of dissonant, ethereal stuff -- bridged from one song to the next.
And until the three other players -- Froese's son and composing collaborator, Jerome, wind and keyboard player Linda Spa and electrifying guitarist Zlatko Perica -- joined Froese at center stage for introductions and the farewell, words had no part in the show.
There was the lack of emotion, of interplay between band members and fans. This was particularly true for the Froeses, who mostly stayed ensconced in their electronic cockpits, complete with twin computer monitors and multiple keyboards. But even when each took a turn at guitar out front, they seemed oddly solitary. And neither acknowledged their cheers, for their guitar solos or for their other work.
That's not to say the evening lacked any strong musicianship. Perica sizzled each time he took over the lead, although until he did the first time, he appeared to be shy, facing his band mates and letting his longish hair hide his face from the crowd. Then he let loose with a screaming solo "Graffiti Bridge," one of five songs the band played from its latest LP, "Rockoon."
Spa, dazzlingly dressed in denim and sparkles in contrast to the men on stage, was the first featured player. She carried the tune on three of the show's first five songs -- proficient but not overpowering whether she was playing her flute, saxophone or clarinet. The band's press kit mentioned a fifth player, drummer Klaus Krueger, but there was no drummer. All the percussion -- a vital part of Tangerine Dream's sound -- was computer generated.
The lights and requisite smoke machine added to the experience, but not entirely successfully. Particularly on "Love on a Real Train," from the band's highly successful "Risky Business" soundtrack, but at other times as well, the bright lights were aimed at the audience, obscuring the stage.
In each of the band's three previous shows on this tour -- in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City -- a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" was the last of as many as four encores, but the New Britain crowd seemed content to leave after only the first.