LeAnn Rimes and Bryan White, the country music equivalent of Ken and Barbie, served up risk-free presentations of their best-known tunes Saturday at the Universal Amphitheater. And while the occasional straying from their roots into pop/rock music was presumably meant to show their depth, it more often demonstrated they were out of their element.

LeAnn Rimes and Bryan White, the country music equivalent of Ken and Barbie, served up risk-free presentations of their best-known tunes Saturday at the Universal Amphitheater. And while the occasional straying from their roots into pop/rock music was presumably meant to show their depth, it more often demonstrated they were out of their element.

Rimes, a 15 year-old songstress who has conquered a number of creative frontiers — music, TV and books — in a career that went from zero to superstardom in less than three years, drew from her three-album repertoire and the upcoming Curb Records disc “Sitting on Top of the World.”

Though the 75-minute set was mostly an even-keeled showcase of Rimes’ substantial vocal prowess — her frequent tapping into the Celine Dion school of big, sustained notes found much favor among the older members of the demographically diverse, sold-out house — its tempo was offset by Rimes’ tightly memorized lines be-tween songs and frequent espousing of meaningless statistics relating to the upcoming tune (“This was my first top-5 single.”)

Rimes hit all the songs the crowd wanted to hear, among them “How Do I Live,” and “Blue,” the latter her first big hit which put her on the music industry’s map, as well as tunes that may not be associated with country music’s First Kid: Aerosmith’s “Cryin’ ” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

The latter two tracks could’ve been used to show Rimes’ ability to step outside the box, but instead resulted in driving rock songs transformed into limping country-tinged ballads.

Show opener White’s vocal chops are well-honed, and he more than made up for what Rimes lacked in stage presence during his 75-minute set.

But much like Rimes, White’s music suffered from an identity crisis from the first track — the Stevie Wonder hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” — though it eventually returned to its roots with the set finale “Wishing on Someone Else’s Star,” White’s signature track.

In between, White’s energetic perf provided plenty of choreographed steps, dips into material from past albums and the upcoming Asylum Records disc, “Right Place,” as well as a duet with Rimes on the Bonnie Raitt nugget “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which, though performed in earnest, came off stilted and forced.

LeAnn Rimes; Bryan White

Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles; 6,250 seats; $47.50 top

Cast

Bands: Rimes: Jerry Matheny, Glynn Flemming, Milo Deering, Kelly Glenn, Curtis Randal, Dan Wojviechowski, Jr. Knight. White: Brinson Strickland, Derek George, Tom Bentley, Randle Currie, Monty Booker, Joe Finger, Lee Hendricks, Scott Emerick.
Reviewed Apr. 25, 1998.
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