With a band like Material Issue, one would gladly sacrifice the lighting display for a plain old spotlight revealing the musicians' faces as they react to the pleasures of pure-pop, or the feelings that register while they sing about that fundamental pure-pop song subject, romance. Material Issue's singer-guitarist-songwriter, Jim Ellison, didn't need fancy lighting to carry a show. He moved with a lanky dynamism, slinging guitar licks from coolly kinetic postures.
Material Issue divided its program about equally between songs from its fine debut album, "International Pop Overthrow," and the OK but less involving new album, "Destination Universe." Most of it was power-pop showcasing Ellison's gritty but fluent guitar work and drummer Mike Zelenko's emphatic pounding (which actually boomed too high in the mix, intruding somewhat on the lead vocals).
Material Issue tossed in enough ballads to pace the show well, and its material was varied enough to allow for a progression of moods-from the effervescent ("International Pop Overthrow") to the valedictory ("Li'l Christine"), the wistful ("Very First Lie") to the cynical ("What Girls Want") and on to the nerve-frazzled ("Valerie Loves Me"). Ellison's voice is on the thin-and-nasal side; but good harmony has a multiplier effect in pure-pop, and bassist Ted Ansani's rich high-harmony backup singing paid big dividends.