Saturday, April 8, 2017

Marshall Crenshaw & The Bottle Rockets: A Fantastic Double Bill at Stage One

Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets
Marshall Crenshaw has been thrilling fans for several decades with his memorable sound, which encompasses pop, rock & folk. For his performance on April 2 at the Fairfield Theatre Company’s Stage One, he brought along some friends: the Missouri based alt-country powerhouse The Bottle Rockets. In essence, we got two incredible shows for the price of one. The Bottle Rockets kicked off the evening by tearing through a blistering set of kick out the jams, country-flavored rock. The set included several songs from their 2015 release South Broadway Athletic Club, including the jam band-esque “Ship It On The Frisco,” the allegorical  “Dog,” and the jangly “Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)”

Lead singer & guitarist Brian Henneman, drummer Mark Ortmann, bassist Keith Voegele and guitar master John Horton share the unique chemistry that allows them to sound loose and spontaneous, but simultaneously tighter than Ortmann’s drums. Everyone in the band got the chance to shine with some memorable solos, and you can see why this group is so well regarded for their passion-fueled live shows. Sprinkled throughout the more recent tunes were a handful of key tracks from across their 25-year career, such as “Kerosene” and the raucous “Indianapolis." Other favorites like the pulsating "Radar Gun" & the Neil Young-ish "Thousand Dollar Car" rounded out the set list.

Marshall Crenshaw
After The Bottle Rockets wrapped up their set, there was a brief break before they returned to the stage to back up Marshall Crenshaw. He started off his portion of the night with a stellar version of Buddy Holly’s “Crying, Waiting, Hoping.” Crenshaw then segued into a mix of more recent compositions such as “Red Wine” and “Television Light” along with staples like “Cynical Girl” and “There She Goes Again.” He was enthusiastic & in good spirits, providing strong vocals and some excellent guitar work. While the more well-known songs from his repertoire garnered the strongest audience reaction, there were other highlights during the show, including a lovely version of Grant (Husker Du) Hart’s “2541” and an incredible take on “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream,” featuring stellar work from Ortmann & Henneman.

Crenshaw & The Bottle Rockets have been playing together for several years now, and they shared a nice camaraderie during the show. The full-bodied backing of the group brought a tougher edge to Crenshaw’s music. Despite the passage of time, his well-crafted tunes definitely retain their wit, charm, and melodic hooks. The latter portion of the night featured a mini-set of Crenshaw’s classic power pop, from “Someday, Someway” to “Whenever You’re On My Mind.” The encore, a marvelous cover of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA,” was a fitting coda to a great show, especially in light of Berry’s recent passing. Special thanks to the staff at the Fairfield Theatre Company; Stage One is a wonderful venue for live music, and this phenomenal evening was no exception.

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