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Savage Garden ...Rocks On * 9/06/ Concord Pavilion





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........Savage Garden the modest Australian duo of Darren Hayes(Lead singer) and Daniel Jones on (Guitar) conquered Concord Pavilion last night. In a set balanced between lush, melodramatic ballads and percolating dance tunes, Savage Garden had the crowd of 10,755 swaying and emoting with every beat. With girls holding signs that said things like "Tina loves Darren" and various couples necking throughout entire songs, the Savage Garden show was not a healthy environment for cynics.
.......Hayes and Jones have neatly divided Savage Garden into two distinct personalities. Hayes is the duo's public face, the rock star, the one whose every move makes girls scream. Jones is the silent one who doesn't sing, who strides the stage armed only with his guitar, who pairs Hayes' lyrics with music. Hayes takes his side of the deal seriously and spent the entire 75-minute set strutting, preening and grimacing, his every move seemingly designed to drive home the love or heartache of each song.
.........Savage Garden snuck up on America just as popular tastes were about to take a nose dive into a morass of teenybopper pop and rage-filled rock and rap. Before anyone realized what was going on, the group's self-titled debut had gone platinum several times over, giving Savage Garden the inertia to maintain its stardom through the rapidly changing trends over the past few years. Their first single, "I Want You," a palpitating Europe track, became Australia's top selling single of 1996 and earned the group a deal with Columbia Records. Their self-titled debut was released early in 1997. In the fall of 1999 they followed up with Affirmation, a collection of mostly melancholic ballads produced by Walter Afanasieff of (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton ).
....... If Savage Garden's second album, "Affirmation," hasn't yet proved quite as popular, it has been quietly and quickly catching up. The title track has even been chosen for the closing ceremonies at the Sydney Olympics, giving the innocently irrelevant group what could be its biggest audience yet. How could music this plain capture the attention of millions in a time of shock tactics and gimmicks?
.........At the Concord Pavilion, Savage Garden demonstrated how its unfashionable soft-sell music could prove so irresistible to so many people by keeping the music spare, to the point and aimed at the middle of the road. The group-bolstered by a proper band and a pair of backup singers-offered something for everyone, as long as "everyone" didn't mind a rather bland "something." Infectious Euro-pop? Check: "I Want You." prom-ready ballads? Check: "Truly, Madly, Deeply" and "I Knew I Loved You." Techno-inflected dance numbers,Check: "Crash and Burn."
.......Savage Garden thoughtfully condensed a handful of them, as well as a snippet of John Lennon's "Imagine," into a little medley, just Jones on piano and Hayes singing nearby. It was a surprisingly intimate moment for a show that sought pop overkill, though the screaming girls were mainly biding their time until the big hits.
........ What mattered was that Savage Garden has a new CD filled with songs that build on what it started in 1997. Hayes and Jones paired the new song "The Best Thing" with 1997's "Break Me Shake Me" for a grand opening to a show that featured the best lighting design at a Grandstand show in years and sound production that was amazingly clear.

By Marcy Medeiros

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