Review by Jim Whittemore (Switch to

I was there last night. Some random thoughts:

These set lists look correct to me, but I always forget something. However, I am pretty sure The Verb To Love was not played. Or did I space out right through it....?

Ferenzik was playing a Fender electric guitar in the first set. He had a large group of pedal effects on a board in from of him, I could not lean over far enough to figure out what they all were. However, his amp (an ancient looking small white trimmed Roland speaker cabinet. Roland? who plays guitar through a Roland cabinet?) totally died on him by the third song and he was without any sound. One earlier posting suggested this was fixed, but I was pretty near his amp the whole set and would say it never came back at all. Which was disappointing since he has an intriguing style of guitar (listen to Devils Playground or Wild Man of Borneo CDs). I got the feeling from the first numbers that his role was going to be adding more atmospheric and sonic fills to things, with the occasional fractured solo. The band was certainly able to get through the songs without the 3rd guitar, but one wonders what the arrangements would have been.

Todd played electric guitar extensively and well. At first I thought he was going to lean back and take rhythm, letting Jesse go for the solos, but no. At times it was a classic guitar war going on up there and Todd's solos were as good as any I have heard him play in the past. Must have built up his callouses on the Ringo tour.

The usual sound guy for Todd (Larry Toomey) was nowhere to be found. And that was a real shame. I assume the mixing and setup were all house people and they were just not very good. The mix was constantly shifting, there was distortion in places, the excellent background vocals were often out of balance in the mix. Todd's guitar dropped completely out of the mix at one point, Jesse's second acoustic guitar never did work, and there was one resonant note on the bass that when Kasim hit it sort of just droned over everything. To a certain extent, I think the ragged technical support actually added to the energy in the first set. The band kind of looked like, "hell, we're in it now, it's rock and roll, rave on..." It was quite loud. I mean quite loud. what? I can't hear you? When Todd came out for the second set, his first comment was "who was that Slop Rock band that opened? Go back to the garage..."

Prairie Prince is an awesome drummer and really pounded on the rock tunes. He played a fairly standard trap set but with only one hi-tom and extra cymbals. His set has a very nice tone and he definitely held things together when they might have wandered off. For the Tiki set they removed the traps and he was back to playing the same setup as last tour, including rhythm box.

Kasim did not play fretless at all as far as I could see. He was apparently in a very up mood and seemed to be enjoying himself in both sets. His background vocals were very solid and the co-lead on Trapped worked very well. A more powerful voice than I recall from the first WAT tour.

Ferenzik came out for the Tiki set in a cheesy white lounge jacket wearing an Afro-type wig. At one point TR referred to him as Billy Preston, but he looked just like Gene Shalit to me. His conga playing was more audible than the last tour and sounded good. His background vocals also sounded stronger to me than the last tour.

Drive was very good. Surfs Talk was powerful and superior to the recorded version (opinion). One caution: if Todd continues to sing with the volume and angst he did in the first set, his voice will be shot as the tour moves on. He laid back a bit vocally in the Tiki set and I wondered if he was trying to rest from the earlier strain. One question: why start the show with the rock and end with the Bossa Nova? I think it might be a more natural progression to flip the order, start the night in the lounge, loosen up, play with the voice and the mix, then come out and do the all-out rock numbers. I think some of the audience became a little restless in the second set since the emotional level was more subdued.

Julie Christianson has a very solid voice and an interesting style. Her keyboard player lagged and had no sense of the swing feel she was going for. I wondered if he was a pick-up player, he was reading sheet music and she seemed to be trying to explain the groove to him before each song started. The audience was noisy during her songs but not disrespectful. She kept her stage presence going and performed well. I would be interested to hear recordings of her songs.

Todd made several stage comments, one I didn't get the context of concerning the bombing of the Chinese embassy. The other was a little tirade about Ricki Martin, a demonstration of Ricki-like hip shaking (back to the audience), and then pondering the question of the day in LA: is Ricki Martin gay? He then commented on Martin being on the cover of TV Guide even though he isn't on a TV show. "I guess he owns a TV, so that's the excuse to put him on the cover..."

There was a spilled Martini and a lot of cocktail onions. One audience member handed him 4 onions on a swizzle stick. Todd thanked her and she told him to play Onionhead. TR looked puzzled and kept saying yeah, onions, finally Bashful told him, "it's one of your songs Todd" and a little light dawned in his eyes. There were also some people who wanted him to know that they knew Santiago, Todd asked are you from Santiago, Chile?, they replied, no Santiago, the guy who used to cut your hair.... Audience was basically pretty good and there was more of a crowd than I expected. I didn't encounter any obvious jerks shouting inappropriate comments, most of the crowd seemed to know the songs and Surf Talks seemed to be recognized by a decent number.

But that first set is REALLY loud. Consider yourself warned on that count.

Other reviews for Half Twisted
6/8/1999 - Slim's - San Francisco, CA

Other reviews for overall Half Twisted

The Todd Rundgren Connection is brought to you by Roger D. Linder & The Linder Logo Rocemabra Web Services.