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Mr. Charisma

On first listen, Orson seems like the penultimate British rock'n soul band: witty, droll, very loud, and dedicated more to the song than to the singer. And while they're currently ripping up the British charts, it turns out that the entire band is from Los Angeles. After toiling unsuccessfully for a bit they went to Manchester to play a gig and earned the ovation of their lives. Considering the reaction they got at the Red Marquee on Sunday afternoon, it seems they have a second market to plunder.

Sartorially spiffy though a bit impractical given the heat in the venue, the band delivered a strong set of soulful pop-rock built around Jason Pebworth's slick maturity. Referring to the folks out there as "boys and girls" he kept the repartee sharp and short and worked a kind of telepathic connection to drummer Chris Cano, who anticipated his every move and cry with crisp fills and intros. He had no trouble getting the audience to sing along with faves like "The OK Song," "No Tomorrow, and "Happiness." But the biggest reaction was to the power ballad "Look Around," which had the girls swaying suggestively and their boyfriends sweating a little extra. That's what you call working the crowd.