If you know anything about Al Di Meola, it won't surprise you that he turned in a sizzling and precise guitar performance Thursday night at Toad's Place in New Haven.
After all, he has been perhaps the foremost jazz guitarist for almost two decades, since he flashed onto the scene as the teenage wonder of the all-star jazz band Return to Forever in 1974.
But the Di Meola who so satisfied the 200-or-so fans in New Haven was also passionate, playful, expressive and engaging, not to mention a fairly persistent huckster.
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.
The jaded rock fans who decided to skip Midnight Oil's show at Avalon Saturday night because they expected sorry gasps from just another doddering '80s band got what they deserved.
So did the fans who decided to attend.
The Australian rockers surged through 90 minutes of charismatic, high-potency rock 'n' roll that proved they are as vital and relevant as they've ever been. The selections they plucked from their quarter- century of songs still burst with life, and the new tunes they played were among the highlights of the show.
It's hard to remember or imagine the time before Natalie Merchant was a solo act, and the new "10,000 Maniacs: Time Capsule" DVD that recalls her former band is only of limited help. That's because, beginning with home movies shot in 1971 by Anthony Merchant, it's more about Natalie than any backing players. Throughout, you see the band in the performance videos, but the music videos that make up maybe half the disc are almost all Merchant-ising.