Saturday, October 09, 2010

Concert Review: Fountains of Wayne with Marshall Crenshaw, Paradise Rock Club

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 very thankful.

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 their 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.

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