ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 25, 1991
Balding and bespectacled, Marshall Crenshaw looks more like a mild-mannered librarian (and a couple of rock critics I know) than the type to rip up a nightclub with tune after tune of jarring, picture-perfect pop. But, as the Detroit-bred, New York-based rocker proved at his first Vancouver headline appearance, looks don’t count for much these days.
“I want to do an autobiographical tune—written by somebody else,” announced the singer/songwriter/guitarist early on in Saturday’s (July 20) show, and then surprised everybody with a gutsy version of Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ with Disaster”. Crenshaw lit up that southern-rock ode to the fast life with some tasty lead guitar, a trick he would pull throughout the night, and his dynamite band—similar in nonchalant tightness and groove to Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers—kept with him the whole time.
“Here’s two from my new album,” said the now-sweating Crenshaw. “Next time you’re in a record shop think about me.” And after the delicious melodies of “Don’t Disappear Now” and “Fantastic Planet of Love”, prospective CD buyers would be hard-pressed to turn down his latest, Life’s Too Short.
Crenshaw’s quirky humour was well-represented by tunes like “The KKK Took My Baby Away”, but he also got down to some serious rockin’ with a killer version of Richard Thompson’s “Valerie”.
He ended things on a high note with an encore of “Viva Las Vegas”, a tune his friend, the late Doc Pomus, wrote for the late Elvis (and the late Dead Kennedys). Life’s too short, all right, and with sparkling gems like Crenshaw still around, it’s pretty precious too.