As opening sets go, the Bottle Rockets delivered a solid sixty-minute set, featuring fourteen songs, spanning their career. The performance showcased Henneman’s sardonic wit, and the songwriting strengths of the band. The set list was a wealth of favorites, including “Radar Gun,” “Kerosene,” and “1000 Dollar Car.” Scattered throughout their set were some fine new songs that will appear on their upcoming new album, although no release date was mentioned. Ortmann displayed the worthy qualities of a human metronome on drums, and Horton provided excellent solos on Telecaster, slide guitar and lap steel. Voegele laid down a solid bass line and provided harmony vocals alongside Henneman.
One of the highlights of the new material was “My Dog.” Introduced by Henneman as a masterpiece of Zen thought, “You’ll be thinking about this one on your way home,” the song proclaimed his love for his canine companion. “I don’t care if you love him, he’s my dog.” They closed with the crowd pleasing “Welfare Music,” but they weren’t gone long because they returned as the backing band for Marshall Crenshaw.
As a songwriter, Crenshaw displays excellent chops, wry lyrical observations, and plenty of melodic hooks. His streak of cynicism keeps the pop side of things from getting too sticky sweet and grounds the sentiments in the real world we have to live in. Kicking off with “Calling Out For Love,” Crenshaw took the audience for a ride through his catalog, including new works from the recent spate of vinyl EPs he has been releasing over the last couple of years.
The newer tunes are evidence that he has lost none of the qualities that made him an important songwriter, one who carried the fire of early rock and roll into the eighties and the post-disco era. Capitalizing on the simplicity of three chord rock and its youthful exuberance, Crenshaw revealed an uncanny knack for the kind of three minute gems that artists like Buddy Holly and the Lovin’ Spoonful once tossed off with regularity. Last night, at The Birchmere, Crenshaw’s newer material sat just fine alongside his radio friendly hits.
Ortmann’s steady beat anchored “Cynical Girl,” to the delight of the ticket holders. The classic “Whenever You’re on my Mind” was followed by “Move Now” and “Red Wine,” both of which are title tracks to four song EPs. A cover of Richard Thompson’s “Valerie” gave way to “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time.” Crenshaw was in fine voice and seemed to be enjoying himself and his band.
The audience responded enthusiastically, bringing Crenshaw and the Bottle Rockets back for what turned out to be a four song encore that included “Someday, Someway,” and “Mary Anne.” Last night, The Birchmere was once again a magical place to be.
See Marshall Crenshaw and the Bottle Rockets below...