A Walk Down Abbey Road 6/20/2001

Review by Charles Adams (Switch to
)
6/21/2001

The concert was very enjoyable. This was my first time to see a concert at the venue, Villa Montavo in Saratoga, California. It is an amphitheater set in the idyllic surroundings of a mountain arboretum. The sound was fairly good for an amphitheater. The band was never too loud, although the mixer seemed to have some trouble tracking the lead vocals. That resulted in some out of balance harmonies.

The musicians were fine. No surprise, Todd Rundgren was the best of the lot. But then Rundgren would stand out in any company. His vocals are simultaneously rubbery and silky. And his guitar work is tasty and old school Ė just the way I like it.

Rundgrenís songs, "Hello Itís Me" and "Bang the Drum", were treated with comedy and wit, though a little embarrassingly so. If he is tired of them, play something else. He is not the one song pony he thinks he is.

The surprise was Ann Wilson. She is in fine form, albeit Rubenesque. Her "Crazy On You" and "Barracuda" sounded fresh and new. "Dreamboat Annie" was nostalgically serene, played with a delicate touch. Kudos to her for getting on with her career, of which there is plenty left. She has a wonderful voice with lots of range. I would like to have heard more of her.

John Entwhistle was his usual laconic self. "My Wife" was disappointing, but then he has never had a stellar singing voice. Better than Peter Townsendís though. Entwhistle fulfilled his contract in his reprisal of earlier glory in "My Generation". His bass rifs in that tune are the epitome of 70ís rock. Or is it 60ís? I donít have to know; I was there.

After singing backup through the entire first set, Alan Parsons took a solo in the second set by singing "Blackbird". Despite the fact that it was an admitted first for him, singing the lead, his performance was steady and tonal. Nothing fancy but decidedly relaxed and self assured.

David Pack of Ambrosia fame filled in well with some touching nostalgia pieces. "Eye in the Sky" and "Games People Play" really stood out and receive standing ovations. His voice is quite good and his tenor quality complements Wilsonís sexy alto and Rundgrenís burly baritone.

Speaking of harmonies, there were lots. The backup musicians, there were four, all sang at various times. On some of the Beatlesí tunes it was a glorious choir. All this from one of the best garage bands around.

It was apparent that they hadnít practiced incessantly. Who can do that nowadays anyway? Most of the mistakes were on the Beatlesí tunes Ė a mistake in lyrics does not go unnoticed in such a crowd. But so what? They picked it up; they played through the mistakes and got back on track every time. That alone was probably only possible because these tunes are, as Ann Wilson says, part of our DNA. And these fine musicians can find the strand and rejoin from the worst of miscues. (Pack and Rundgren were singing different verses in "I Want to Hold Your Hand". It lent a kind of Ives quality that only enhanced the enjoyment.)

But again, so what? So they mess up the lyrics. So they donít get the bridge quite right. This is not brain surgery, itís entertainment and I was highly entertained. Rundgren needs some suspenders; he kept cinching his pants up. And Parsons needed the acoustic guitar in front of him all night to hide the beer gut. But this is all part of getting on with life. The fact that they are out there doing it and it is still entertaining is all that matters. I mean have you seen the Stones? Those guys should be in their own diorama.


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6/20/2001 - Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts - Saratoga, CA

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