Eric Burdon at Jaxx: That Old Animal Energy

Monday, August 27, 2001; Page C05

It's Eric Burdon's life and he'll do what he wants. And even at 60, he wants to rock.

At Jaxx on Friday, he found the house packed with boisterous and similarly ripened fans who fully supported his whimsy. In a fiery and frolicky 90-minute set, the singer best remembered for his days fronting the Animals and spearheading Britain's mid-'60s blues revival threw himself into essentially all the nuggets from his very glorious past.

Burdon's footwork isn't as fancy or his vertical leap as lofty as it used to be, but his voice, which growled through roadhouse versions of "Boom Boom" and "Tobacco Road," hasn't lost any of its bluesy edge. His earnest delivery on the Animals' 1965 anthems "It's My Life," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," and on the 1966 burner "Inside Looking Out," reminded fans how very punky those tunes, and the singer, were when Burdon first sang them.

"Monterey," a you-are-there song about the Monterey Pop festival that Burdon wrote shortly after that 1967 jamboree, captured what a scenemaker he was back in the day. "Sky Pilot," a very ambitious antiwar and psychedelic tune from "The Twain Shall Meet," remains unlike any other Animals offering.

Burdon gave "Spill the Wine," from his brief stint fronting War, a reading too salacious for youngsters, if there'd been any in the club. He introduced the inevitable encore of "House of the Rising Sun" by saying, "When I was 17, I never thought I'd see 21." But from all appearances, he still can.

-- Dave McKenna

2001 The Washington Post Company