Cold War Kids Phoenix, Toronto ON March 18

Cold War Kids Phoenix, Toronto ON March 18
On St. Patrick's Day, DJs everywhere played plenty of U2. Evidently, all of that radio rock rubbed off on California four-piece Cold War Kids, whose next-day set owed plenty to Bono and co.

Buoyed by the Balconies' romping opening slot, the Kids came out to a primed, half-drunken and easy-to-please Friday night crowd. Beginning with "Royal Blue" -- an amalgam of "Mysterious Ways" (see the intro) and Rod Stewart's "Rhythm of My Heart" (see the melody) -- they established a MOR standard that never abated.

In addition to Dublin's favourite arena act, the band's musical allusions ran a familiar gamut. Despite its atypically exciting maraca and harmonica, "Cold Toes on the Cold Floor" sauntered into Better Than Ezra territory (remember them?), while mid-tempo plodder "Skip the Charades" echoed Silverun Pickups. And even the jaunty keys of "Bulldozer" nodded to David Gray.

While U2 was a near-constant presence, "Hang Me Up to Dry" briefly dropped the Edge riffs, opting instead for rollicking keys and providing the most ebullient moment of the night. From there, car-commercial aspirations ran wild, with genial paint-by-numbers cuts like "Louder Than Ever," "Dreams Old Men Dream" and "Audience."

Largely unobtrusive -- never a particularly promising adjective for a rock show -- the band delivered a how-to-please clinic. Like a fresh-out-of-the-box pair of Chuck Taylors, it was a pleasant but ultimately unmemorable affair that could have benefitted greatly from some scuffing.