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A small audience basks in curative pop music from three bands at the Madrid Theatre

Magic Man, led by vocalist Alex Caplow (right) and guitarist and keyboardist Sam Lee, performed Wednesday night at the Midland Theatre on a bill with the Griswolds and Panama Wedding.
Magic Man, led by vocalist Alex Caplow (right) and guitarist and keyboardist Sam Lee, performed Wednesday night at the Midland Theatre on a bill with the Griswolds and Panama Wedding. CJMoyPhoto.com

The curative qualities of frothy pop were demonstrated by three bands at the Madrid Theatre on Wednesday. Magic Man, the Griswolds and Panama Wedding energized about 300 fans with exciting performances of jubilantly carefree music.

“Feels Like Summer,” a breezy song rendered by the opening act, Panama Wedding, set the tone. The New York quartet’s fizzy ditty about living life to the fullest incited uninhibited dancing that didn’t let up until the final song of the evening had ended.

Although Magic Man served as the headliner, most of the audience was on hand to hear the Griswolds. The Australian quartet played 45 minutes of slightly left-of-center power pop and disco.

The young women pressed against the lip of the stage reacted to the antics of magenta-haired front man Christopher Whitehall as if he were a superstar. When he stirred them with a series of questions — “Do you want to dance? Do you want to sing? Do you want to have a good time?” — his admirers screamed their assent with unhinged enthusiasm.

Fans also shouted the title of “Right on Track” back to the band and participated in the schoolyard chant that runs through “Be Impressive.” “If You Wanna Stay” was among the exuberant songs Whitehall sang that seemed better suited to cavernous arenas than small ballrooms.

The incongruity of the setting and the small audience’s rabid reaction to the band’s concise songs caused the Griswolds to resemble a substantially less successful but a markedly more capable version of the boy band One Direction.

About 100 devotees of the Griswolds departed at the conclusion of the band’s set. Their absence provided even more room to move during the hourlong dance party orchestrated by Magic Man.

The Boston-based quintet is dedicated to reviving the melodramatic pop of the 1980s. Renditions of a few songs resembled Phil Collins’ biggest hits. A faithful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” further confirmed Magic Man’s orientation. An amusingly disheveled cover of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (The Remix)” featuring members of all three bands closed the concert.

Skeptics dismiss the music that was performed at the Madrid Theatre on Wednesday as hopelessly inconsequential. Yet the members of the modest contingent of enthusiasts who sang along to the uplifting chorus of Magic Man’s “Tonight” — “tonight we’re all believers”— can testify to the uplifting power of pop.

Bill Brownlee: @happyinbag

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