Marshall Crenshaw brought his irresistible songs to the 9:30 club last night and a packed crowd found them, well, irresistible. Crenshaw's set was full of original compositions that, in the best Beatlesque pop rock, tied strings around your heart and set your feet hopping at the same time. His boy-next-door stage presence and passionate, vulnerable voice blended perfectly with the optimism of his exuberant romances like "Maryanne" and "Girls, Girls, Girls." On "Rockin' Around NYC," Crenshaw's ringing guitar and the pulsing rhythm of his brother Robert's drums and Chris Donato's bass created a musical merry-go-round effect that was joyful and dizzying.
With only a three-piece band and some near-perfect harmony singing, Crenshaw was able to create a full range of musical effects to enliven his material. Much like Buddy Holly, he used his Fender guitar to push the rhythm and sustain his memorable melodies at the same time. On Cliff Richard's "Move It," Crenshaw proved he could rock it tough, evoking the tense rockabilly guitar work of the legendary Hank Marvin. But it was his own compositions, many employing unforgettable guitar figures that echoed over and over throughout the songs, that had the crowd bobbing and singing along and finally demanding an encore. When he finished with his own "Cynical Girl," there wasn't a cynic left in the crowd. A lot of people went home smiling and singing.