Bad Brains’ mercurial frontman H.R. was once one of the very best, displaying acrobatic ferocity that rivaled the music’s feral intensity. His meek latter-day performances fronting the legendary hardcore band have earned him much scorn, but he can still be an engaging performer when the spirit strikes him — which seems to happen more frequently when he’s fronting his own group. He put on a helluva show two years ago at the Grog Shop, playing guitar and capering about the stage with joyous vibrancy, backed by a tight and enthusiastic band. H.R. released his first album in eight years, Hey Wella, last year, and it’s one of the finest records he’s ever made. It’s all over the place — slow-burn blues ballads, ambling reggae, jagged metal-inflected dub, furious hardcore — all delivered with remarkable consistency and ample musicality. Combined with Bad Brains’ comeback on 2007’s Build a Nation, H.R. might have finally shed the bad rep that’s dogged him since the ’90s. He’s a versatile, exciting artist when he commits himself to the music, so cross your fingers when he comes to Now That’s Class (11213 Detroit Ave., 216.221.8576) at 9 tonight. Miss Melvis and CD Truth open. — Chris Parker
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