Every attempt to see Fountains of Wayne since I moved to Boston two and half years ago had been thwarted, so it was with great relief that I finally saw a full set by them last night. It is the rare band whose songs make one smile so much that their cheeks hurt.
The band previewed songs from their upcoming album, but only a few.
Most memorable was "A Road Song," in which they sing about the cliches
of a road song while mining new territory in that subgenre, including
the lyrics, "I guess I'm not Steve Perry." And for that, the fans were
Without a specific album to promote, they drew from their entire
catalog. The set selection included no surprises, as much as I hope in
vain for "Little Red Light." They brought a handful of audience members
onto the stage for a percussion addition to "Hey, Julie." They explored
roster of songs about transportation from taxis to a lavender Lexus.
They worked songs by Billy Joel and Blue Öyster Cult into the
extended bridge for "Radiation Vibe." But mainly they did what they did
best, wielding perfect power pop with sing-along hooks and sharply
detailed lyrics. Their coterie of loyal fans recognized that "Stacy's
Mom" is just the tip of the iceberg of their seemingly endless depths
of should-be hits.
Marshall Crenshaw's voice has weathered since his '80s heyday, but his
songs haven't aged at all. As he poured out semi-hit after semi-hit,
from "Cynical Girl" to "Whenever You're on My Mind" to "There She Goes
Again," it was an immediate reminder why he made such a splash and
earned critical plaudits when he came onto the scene. Of course he
played, "Some Day, Some Way," but I had forgotten how much other great
material he had to draw from, so much so that he skipped the songs I
specifically remembered beforehand, "Mary Anne" and "I'm Sorry (But So
Is Brenda Lee)." His new material was in the same vein. Although he is
nothing but sincere, without a trace of Fountains of
Wayne's snarkiness humor, his singer/songwriter power pop was
a well-suited pairing with the headliners.