by Jeff Niesel
Since recruiting the Bottle Rockets, a terrific alt-country act out of St. Louis, to be his backing band a couple of years ago, singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw has gotten a good second wind. Playing last night at the Beachland Ballroom with three-fourths of the Bottle Rockets in tow, Crenshaw opened his 90-minute set with “Better Back Off,” a tune he described as a “happy song about anxiety” and then quickly disposed of his hits “Someday, Someway,” “Whenever You’re on My Mind,” and “What Do You Dream Of?” He rushed a bit through “Someday, Someway” but seemed to really cherish “Whenever You’re on My Mind” and “What Do You Dream Of?”
Just because Crenshaw played his best songs early, that didn’t mean anyone in the small but attentive crowd was about to leave. “What’s the last thing you’d expect us to play?” asked Crenshaw before ripping into a rendition of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” that he said represented “the story of my life.” While the Hendrix cover was a whimsical choice that the band couldn’t quite deliver with enough punch, Crenshaw and the Rockets really clicked, especially on bluesier numbers such as “Stormy River” and “Cynical Girl,” the latter of which had several patrons up and dancing. “Live and Learn” came up flat and dreary and there were a few other duds throughout the course of the 20-song set, but Crenshaw was in fine form for the majority of the show.
Local garage rockers the Rainy Day Saints opened with a solid set of tunes that showed off their more aggressive psychedelic rock side, something that was amplified simply because the band turned the volume up so high.