Music » Livewire

Marshall Crenshaw

Wednesday, January 29, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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Marshall Crenshaw used to cover an MC5 song, y'know. In his late-'70s formative years, the Detroit native dabbled in riff rock, Todd Rundgren rips, the Beatles, surf instrumentals, and whatever else caught his ear for more than half a second (to see for yourself, check the overlooked 9 Volt Years on Razor & Tie). Ultimately, Crenshaw settled into the Buddy Hollygolightly sound that's been his calling card ever since. All the ensuing critical drool and certain hits that never caught fire have made Crenshaw definitive proof that pure pop played by the boy next door is a thing of the past. So at this point, Crenshaw is a family man who's content to come to town every year and a half to remind you what songwriting is.

Yet, for the supposedly sunny pop he's identified with, Crenshaw's songs frequently carry a heavy melancholia of Phil Spectorish teen heartbreak that most singer-songwriters would consider too, well, teen. Not so for Crenshaw, who never denies his eternal adolescence. The last few times he's passed through Cleveland, Crenshaw's only accompaniment has been his acoustic guitar. The man is dragging a band along with him on this go-round, though, so maybe he'll just get back to rockin' out that MC5 cover again.

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