Into the fire, eventually: Dokken.
  • Into the fire, eventually: Dokken.
State Theatre lobby
August 6

The Summer at the State series was the perfect opportunity for LynnMarie's more seasoned followers to see her perform without worrying about drunks or violating their internal clocks. It was an early show (beginning at seven) and set in genteel surroundings (the State Theatre lobby). There were more gray heads of hair in the audience than not.

LynnMarie Rink seems to understand she plays an instrument, the button box, that many think belongs only in ethnic community centers. Let's face it: It's a little hard to be younger than 35 and not look ridiculous with an accordion draped across your abdomen. So she dresses in pastels and cuts a stylish figure. Her smile is brighter than the chandelier she performed under. She covered a Who song.

LynnMarie and her four-piece band played polkas and waltzes, but they also drifted into pop, rock, and soul without anyone choking on their kielbasa. In a way, it was a reminder of how limited "modern" genres have become. When an alternative act reaches back to Buck Owens, we marvel at its expansiveness. When LynnMarie played "Squeeze Box," you almost felt like you saw it coming.

Her voice is somewhat limited — she seams to speak as much as sing — but LynnMarie is a pleasing performer. Her work in television (she's an assistant director on TNN's PrimeTime With Gary Chapman) has probably taught her how to give — and not sell — herself to the audience.

"I almost feel like I'm at a wedding, only I don't know anybody, and I didn't have to sit through a ceremony," said my guest for the evening. True enough. LynnMarie played a variety of material — songs the older folks could dance to, pop hits for the younger gang ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours," "I Can't Let You Go"), and regional flavorings (her original "That's What I Like About the North" and MSB's "She Don't Love You"). The difference between LynnMarie and weekend wedding warriors is that she's a good songwriter and has probably never learned the chord changes to "Strokin'."

This was the penultimate show of the Summer at the State series, and while the State Theatre lobby is a beautiful setting, it's not much of a live music venue. Musicians are usually too fussy about sound, but even a novice would frown at the bad acoustics of such a large room.

Finally, the Fan of the Evening Award goes to Alex Sage. What Alex might have lacked in technique, he made up for in enthusiasm. He danced by himself. He danced with a girl. And, because he's three years old, he danced in his father's arms. "He loves accordion music," said Mom. — David Martin

Agora Theatre
August 8-9

There have been two excellent examples this summer — Poison and the Cult — of bands capitalizing on the rekindled interest in '80s music, and both concerts were consumer-friendly. This show was not. Waiting for Dokken to take the stage as the clock struck 1 a.m. Monday morning, it was easy to fathom why this once-powerful hard rock band was going to play for merely a hundred or so die-hard stragglers — its timing sucked.

Not only was headlining the World Series of Metal on a Sunday night a bad idea, but the band's late start time was apparently its own fault. Supposedly, an extraordinarily long sound check — come on, you've been playing the same songs for over a decade — pushed everything back a few hours.

Despite the departure of grandiose guitarist George Lynch — he's now quit the band twice — new axeman Reb Beach did just fine with high-flying solos and contorted facial features. As for the band's namesake, Don Dokken: He spent most of the evening going through the motions. The lead singer was lifeless on the opening number "Erase the Slate" — which is in reference to the band starting over, despite sounding exactly as it did in 1987 — as his choppy vocal delivery sounded amateurish. However, he did score points with the fans when he brought out a heavy arsenal of falsettos.

Interestingly, Don Dokken rebounded on the cover of Three Dog Night's "One." His voice carried the track, while the rest of the band added an '80s glam metal sound. The majority of Dokken's set was, not surprisingly, of the "greatest hits" variety, including "Into the Fire," with Don's foreboding vocals riding in front of a heavy guitar.

The thin crowd at the Agora must have been quite a blow to Dokken's ego, since less than 48 hours earlier, the band was in Germany playing at a metal festival to over 30,000 screaming Aryans. (The Fatherland is also the country where Hasselhoff tops the charts.) There is a market for '80s music. First, Dokken needs to learn something about marketing. — John Benson


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