Auf der Maur's Chelsea makes a good covers band
The Chelsea (Spaceland; 260 capacity; $8)
By Troy J, Augusto

Brand new band led by former Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bass player Melissa Auf der Maur and featuring A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin, drummer Sam Maloney (Hole, Motley Crue) and a bleached-blond guitar player named Radio made its live debut Wednesday.

While the names of the players in the band may have been more than enough to fill this small Silverlake club (with a fair number of people unable to get in) and lure a large number of pro photographers, the music itself was little more than pleasantly mopey and blurry garage rock with little original manner.

The players, who are otherwise a talented lot, appeared lost and confused on more than one occasion, and at least one tune was restarted after someone blew the opening. Auf der Maur's early pronouncement that "We're just a bunch of girlfriends who got together last week" served to explain the seeming lack of preparation.

Auf der Maur does have a nice singing voice (remember her backing efforts in the Hole episode of ``Unplugged'' on MTV? ), and the lanky performer moves and plays her guitar with a visually striking and assured style that's sure to find favor with those put off by the more unwashed inclinations of her former boss Courtney Love.

But there was little indication this bunch has much of a songwriting well to draw from. Of the seven full songs played, two were covers (Devo's 'Gates of Steel' and Billy Idol's 'Eyes Without a Face') and most of the others lacked sufficient energy or inspiration to make much mark.

'Race You' sounded something like L7 mixed with the Jesus Lizard, while closer 'People Say' was a big mess as the four women never quite got their efforts in synch with one another. The yearning ballad 'Good News' with Lenchantin on violin, was the best of the original tunes, while the rearranged Billy Idol song, featuring two bass players, was the short set's most rocking effort. Presented inhouse.

Band: Melissa Auf der Maur, Paz Lenchantin, Radio, Samantha Maloney. Reviewed Feb. 6, 2002.

Reuters/Variety REUTERS