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Reviewed by Greg Beets, January 23, 2009, Music

Christopher Cross

One World Theatre, Jan. 18

Nearly 30 years after his five-Grammy debut, Christopher Cross (né Geppert) returned to Austin last Sunday for a pair of storyteller-style shows at One World Theatre. Born in San Antonio, Cross played guitar in 1960s teen rock combo the Psychos before landing in Flash, a cover outfit that traversed Texas during the next decade. He was signed to Warner Bros. after a performance at Austin's Alamo Roadhouse in October 1978. Introduced here by KLBJ's Charlie Hodge, Cross and his fourpiece band opened the second show with "Never Be the Same." It was like stepping into an adult contemporary time machine set to 1980 – the last gasp of West Coast studio polish bravely asserting itself in the sneering faces of New Wavers with sideways haircuts. The genteel, capacity crowd responded with fealty that went well beyond applause of recognition. Cross strategically parceled out his hits across the 90-minute set, leaving plenty of room for lesser-known songs from his post-Warner catalog. "Deputy Dan" recounted Cross' ambition to follow in Steely Dan's chop-happy footsteps, while "Walking in Avalon" elbowed boundaries of polite conversation with a lyric about taking mushrooms. Without 48 tracks to work with, most of the arrangement coverage fell to saxophonist David Mann, who filled gaps as needed and faithfully reproduced the emblematic solo from 1981's "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)." Sadly, this approach couldn't nudge main set closer "Ride Like the Wind" out of second gear. Hearing the song sans Michael McDonald's "such a long way to go" was like eating french fries without ketchup. Even so, the audience clapped along and gave Cross a standing ovation.

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