Without much fanfare they started into the respective "stars" tunes, with the first being "Open my Eyes" which floored my little group (some friends of a friend who couldn't go and passed the tickets on.....and Me and TFMC). Todd was playing that green strat style (which must have a bucker or p90 in it) and it was sounding good.
It was a blurr of tunes after that, Ann Wilson has lost nothing, her voice is just as, or more powerful than 20 years ago and she hits ALL the notes effortlessly. She did "Dog and Butterfly" and it was truly beautiful. I think on this one she pulled out a flute and amazed everybody with some virtuoso flautisms that would make Ian Anderson blush. Near the end of the set, they steamed through "Barracuda" with Todd, Entwistles guitar player (Townsend!...no relation) and Alan Parsons guitar player sharing the signiture leads from the record and hitting all the licks like a seasoned cover band with no future.
The Alan Parsons tunes like "Eye in the Sky" sounded just like the recordings, only louder (unless you have a really big stereo and you listen to Alan Parsons real loud from 50 feet away with your feet sticking to the floor where somebody spilled a beer). He's not my favourite but he's awfully good. He did a solo version of "BlackBird" that was good and seemed to be helping out a lot with the harmonies. He also brought out a flute with Ann Wilson at one point and that was cool.
Todd did his biggest hit "Hello it's me" pretty much straight, no fooling around (he usually seems almost embarrassed to sing it and cuts up and so forth) and the audience sang along loudly and knew every line. The Saenger was about full......probably holds 2500 people or so. A lot of people clearly came to see Todd and there must have been a standing "O" after every song he sang, and most of the others as well. Toward the end of the "hits" set Todd brought out the Snare and led a rousing version of "Bang the drum all day" ('this is for the sports fans'). Again everybody knew all the words. Hearing a 1000 aging hipsters scream/sing along with ".....and I bang on that sucker like it was the bosses head"! is worth the price of admission.
At this point they took a break and came back with the "Abbey Road" part of the show.
One of the amazing features of this "revue" was how well they did these iconoclastic songs. They were totally faithfull to the original arrangements, not glossing over the tricky bits like you might expect/forgive. Todd switched to a Rickenbacher for this set and it sounded great. "Here comes the Sun" was a standout because of the harmonies and the delivery. "Fool on the Hill", "Lady Madonna", and even "I want to hold your hand" were done completely straight and right on the mark. Ann Wilson's harmony parts were dead on and blended with Todd's in a very appealing way (they should get together after this and record).
Todd changed the pace with "Hide your Love away" done solo sitting on a stool with the entire crowd shouting the "Hey" part like some druid ritual.
Then at some point a roadie brought out the physcodelic LP/SG and the opening strains of "While my guitar Gently Weeps" brought everybody to their feet. Todd sang it and absolutely wailed on the solos...this got some of the biggest applause of the night. One complaint I've had in the past was Todd using a bunch of flanging chorus stuff on his guitar......that was absent on this show......just straight (overdriven when appropriate) guitar and lots of riffs. Todd is a monster guitarist and I was glad to hear it more or less dry. He KILLED on several tunes.
They had a couple of false starts and a flub or two but all very minor and brushed off by them and the audience with a smile.
Entwistle's Bass sound was impressive in this context too. He had a giant rig that plumbed the lowest megahertz as well as that signiture treble snap he uses. His Drummer and Guitar guy were Really really good too. They nailed a Who tune or two and Entwistle even sang one ('My Wife' I think?), and sounded great.
Toward the end Ann Wilson delivered a convincing and powerful "Hey Jude" with most of the crowd now down front standing and singing along enthusiastically on the "na na na na" part. It was great, one of those "collective consciencenous" moments were the audience and the band acted as one giant steamroller chorus and raised some serious chicken skin. This happened a few times in fact.
They played tons of songs and at the end launched into "Golden Slumbers/The Weight" from the end of the Abbey Road record (appropriate eh?) and it was just Rocking the house. Remember the guitar solo trade-offs at the end of that? They nailed those to the floor with Todd doing the John Lennon licks on the Rickenbacher. By this time the sound was cranked and that little drum solo in there was just sledgehammer perfect with the kick drums sounding like cannons going off. Everybody was on their feet.
An authentic demand for an encore brought them back out and they finished with "Birthday". With all the guitars playing that Birthday riff in unison and the thundering drum kit under all the vocal parts it was just sublime.
TFMC wanted to finally get Todd's autograph, so we hung around for quite some time and caught him trying to sneak off....hehe. Once "cornered" though he was real nice and signed a bunch of stuff and took pic's with our little knot of die-hards. It was worth the wait (thanks to TFMC's tenacity) and she even got a "Nearly Human" album cover signed for Marta Limbaugh.....hehe....that's another story.
So all in all, it was a truckload of tunes, an enthusiastic appreciative audience and some truly transcendental performances. Todd may insist that he was "born to synthesize", but I maintain, and this show bolsters my opinion, that he was born to wail on an electric guitar and rock out.