As soon as Pete Shelley whined "I'm the Shy Boy," the engaging introduction to his international electro-pop anthem "Homo Sapien," the packed house at the 9:30 club threw itself into a modern rock rapture. However stale and sterile the now-fashionable synthesizer-based rock sometimes seems, Shelley proved that this genre, in the hands of a talent like his, can produce moving and enduring, as well as danceable, rock 'n' roll. Backed by drums, bass and tapes and tapes of pre-recorded synthesizers, Shelley played rhythm guitar and sang some of the most original and melodic rock songs being written today.
Especially impressive was Shelley's "I Guess I Must Have Been in Love With Myself," a romantic ballad that built into a powerful crescendo of heavily chorded guitar and soaring synthesizer lines. At his best, Shelley, like the Kinks' Ray Davies, creates a humanistic kind of rock that manages to be both meaningful and a little silly. Shelley's voice, a high-pitched whine occasionally given to Indian war whoops and falsettos, was a perfect front for the pulsating and droning dance rock that moves underneath his melodies. Best of all--even with all the electronics, a slide show and eerie lighting--Pete Shelley smiled, rocked and was fun and funny.