Probably the most important question that Mari Wilson asked at the 9:30 club last night was "Do you want to do the alligator?"
And, of course, everyone did, because Wilson and the Wilsations, England's latest energetic revivalists, have a terrific party sense rooted in the Brill pop and the Motown magic of the '60s. When you think about it, who wants to get metaphysical on a Friday night anyway?
Backed by a tight 11-piece band--it included a horn section, emcee Hank B. Hive and two pairs of matching backup singers called the Marionettes and the Marines --Wilson ripped through a delightful pop pastiche that looked equally to Lesley Gore and the Supremes for inspiration, even though most of the material is original.
It's a joyful kind of nostalgia, Timi Yuro without the hurt, and if the highly orchestrated stage show occasionally slipped into musical redundancy, it seldom failed as pure entertainment.
Wilson, the high priestess of hair spray, paraded her foot-high bouffant through a series of costume changes, dance instructions and tight choreography. Her songs are about parties, love and dancing, and Wilson celebrates all three with an amiable good cheer that seems peculiar to the British.
She gave a vibrant reading of Julie London's classic "Cry Me a River," but the crowd was more tuned to party lines like "Just What I Always Wanted," "Dance Card" and "Rave."
It's a pop energy that the B-52's stood upside down; Mari Wilson and the Wilsations stand it right side up again with innocent intentions.