To use a well-worn cliche: expect the unexpected.
Before Sunday night's post-modern rock show featuring Scottish quartet the Soup Dragons and Welsh band Gene Loves Jezebel, I would have sworn that the former would have blown the latter off the stage - especially in light of GLJ's lethargic performance in Park West a couple of years back.Guess what? I'll admit it, I was wrong. During that time, Gene Loves Jezebel lost a key founder in the flamboyant and sexually ambiguous Michael Aston and changed from a doom-and-gloom pop/rock group to one that wouldn't sound out of place in the Salt Palace. That's not a criticism, just an statement that the band has changed - and drastically.
Co-founder Jay Aston stayed with the band and has toned down his David Lee Roth-like stage antics and has cut back on his piercing seagull cries that were so annoying. The group's sound still revolves around his sometimes unpleasant vocals, but also stresses strong musicianship.
For example, Chris Bell's sterling drum work carried the brunt - and the grunt - for most of the band's early music, but now guitarist Jim Stevenson and bassist Pete Rizzo also steal the spotlight.
Stevenson, in particular, seemed at home with the new stylings, especially while playing rapid-fire, machine-gun guitar riffs for "Burn," and an aching bluesy solo during "Living Up to You, Baby."
Of course, that doesn't mean Aston has disappeared into the woodworks. On the contrary, the flame-haired - and also lipsticked and mascaraed - singer got into his stage prancing and got the Chimney, er Coliseum, crowd rocking on "Jealous."
That Aerosmith-like number, of all the band's recent material, could be the boost to get GLJ into the mainstream and out of the seeming doldrums it was experiencing after the other Aston's departure.
Though the band may have to do more still to win me over, at least I can admit that I somewhat enjoyed their live set, as opposed to the Soup Dragons mess.
The Scottish four-piece outfit certainly didn't live up to its name, as it fizzled out as soon as it hit the stage and never recovered during its thankfully brief performance.
Probably the best thing about the Soup Dragons' performance was the laser light show the band employed, which diverted some attention from how inept the band is live.
Sean Dickson's sour vocals didn't help much, neither did the lethargic instrumentals, which turned semi-fun romps like "Lovegod" into a solemn metallic dirge.
Even the band's cover of the Rolling Stones' B-side "I'm Free" sounded awful, especially without rap/reggae artist Junior Reid's invigorating interruptions.
In light of promises the Dragons made to play material from their earlier albums - in particular from 1986's Buzzcocks soundalike "Hang Ten" - the set was especially disappointing and lifeless. In fact, I'll probably give their current effort another spin to make sure they really aren't the flashes-in-the-pan they sure sounded like.