Former Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard is known for two things: drinking hard and playing long. He delivered on both fronts during a 2 1/2-hour set before a full house at the Paradise on Friday night. Pounding beers and drinking tequila from the bottle, he powered through nearly 40 songs from his prolific 22-year career, as his adoring, mostly male fans sang along and cheered his every drink and witticism.
Pollard, who was the creative force behind now-defunct Guided By Voices, has a reputation that precedes him. Even his drunken digressions are predictable. But the glee with which he continues to belt out his songs and play rock star kept his performance fresh. It also helped that his four-piece touring band, which included cult favorite singer-songwriter Tommy Keene on keyboards and guitars and Superchunk’s Jon Wurster on drums, delivered a relaxed but kinetic set.
Pollard dug back to oldies, such as the rousing rocker ”Make Use,” from his 1998 solo album, ”Waved Out.” He also played much of his latest solo release, the 2006 double album ”From a Compound Eye,” which shows off his songwriting range, from the bombastic, Who-flavored classic rocker ”Blessed in an Open Head” to the psychedelic ballad ”Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft” and the quirky power pop of ”Dancing Girls and Dancing Men.”
He also gave a sneak peek at his new album, ”Normal Happiness,” which is due this fall. Songs like ”Supernatural Car Lover” were as eccentric and tuneful as anything in his catalog. Pollard closed the night, as his fans clearly hoped he would, with several Guided By Voices songs, including ”Girls of Wild Strawberries” and ”Don’t Stop Now.”