See Edie sing.
See Edie play guitar. See Edie (dramatically) lift her foot off the floor and cock it against her knee. See Edie resume her flat-footed stance and sing some more.You get the idea: Edie Brickell is no Mick Jagger.
And what of it? Is it necessary to put in an aerobic workout each time you take the stage? Isn't the quality of the music ultimately what's really important?
Well, of course. But as I sat through nearly two hours of music by Brickell and her New Bohemians - music that must be counted among the freshest and most interesting on the popular music scene today - I kept wondering what was missing.
And finally I realized that no matter how lively the music got, the musicians onstage stood stonily, never giving any indication they were any more moved by what they were playing than I was.
I'm not suggesting that handsprings are all that's necessary to make a pop star (Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli notwithstanding). In fact, it's refreshing, in a way, to see performers get away from the sort of grandiose gestures and ridiculous histrionics of many rock stars who seem to equate sweat with gusto and confuse energy with inspiration.
The success of Brickell and New Bohemians has been at least partly due to their willingness to shun musical conventions in favor of a sound that is sufficiently unusual to satisfy fickle adolescent tastes and yet somehow still manages to be traditional enough to placate parents, a few of whom attended to chaperone their kids.
Much of the show was devoted to new material from the band's 1991 album, "Ghost of a Dog." It's an eclectic assortment of songs regnant with guitarist Kenny Withrow's precise, lilting licks, which dart between stanzas and serve as a counterpoint to Brickell's sensual voice.
It's a format that serves them well on songs like "Strings of Love," "Woyaho," "Forgiven" and, especially, "Air of December."
And, of course, it's probably true that part of what keeps members of the band from kicking up their heels is that they simply not your average dance band whose computer-generated rhythms that make it impossible to keep still. Rather, New Bohemians prefer moodier melodies with unexpected directions set to a slower, more deliberate beat.
In spite of all that, it's hard not to think a few visuals flourishes would have helped the cause immensely. By convention, vocalists and guitarists are the cheer-leaders in pop bands, and Withrow, to his credit, attempted to reflect in body language the emotion he wrung from his instrument.
But Brickell, standing cross-legged and virtually immobile, sometimes gazing with apparent distraction at the ceiling, simply did nothing to instill a sense of urgency in any of her songs. Not surprisingly, the audience responded in kind, rising only to observe the conventional standing ovation at the conclusion of the show.
In sum, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians are among the most promising crop of new artists. But my suggestion would be to stick with their albums, which are, unfortunately, infinitely more inspiring than the band was in concert.