2 days ago
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Marshall Crenshaw with The Bottle Rockets, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, September 21, 2011
The Bottle Rockets opened with an acoustic set that was great fun, even without their lead guitarist, who was apparently on paternity leave (rock and roll has really changed). They were rootsy, organic, songs were good, and the sound was great. The audience was absolutely reverent- you could hear a pin drop during the quiet songs. The between song chatter was funny and self-deprecating, and several of the songs were quite funny, most notably 1000 Dollar Car. The sad Smokin' 100s Alone was great. You could tell they were missing a lead guitarist, but it didn't matter much at all.
The Bottle Rockets then came back as Crenshaw's band for the main event. and it was excellent. It turns out that Brain Henneman, when he's not singing, is a pretty hot guitarist. Crenshaw did a lot of his first record (the show was billed as a 30 year celebration), including There She Goes Again, Someday, Someway, Cynical Girl, Mary Anne, and a particularly kick-ass Rockin' Around In N.Y.C. Other highlights included his version of Richard Thompson's Valerie, his Don Dixon co-write Calling Out For Love (At Crying Time), and two Buddy Holley covers. Crenshaw's voice was in fine form, and he is still hitting the high notes.
The Rockets were reasonably tight, but it also had a loose, spontaneous feel at times, maybe because Henneman was taking over leads for the missing John Horton. Special merit award to Keith Voegele, whose bass, and especially his harmony vocals, were the spice in the mix all night. Crenshaw took a few tasty leads, and it would have been fine if he played more. Leave them wanting more.
The sound was the usual thick muddy mess that seems to be the staple of live rock and roll. Too much bass drum, not enough lead guitar (especially Crenshaw's, and on this night at least, he was the hotter guitarist), and too much total volume. You know it's what you're going to get, but it still sounds like crap.