Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood Sunday, June 13

Review by John Lappen (Hollywood Reporter) (Switch to

The beauty of Todd Rundgren is that one is never sure which Todd is going to show up. For the second night of two well-attended weekend performances, a pair of Rundgrens were in the house to share their muse with the roomful of Runt loyalists.

During the set's first hour, the rock 'n' roll Rundgren appeared and proceeded to destroy the joint with a set of stripped-down power rock. Fronting a five-piece band of very talented musicians, including longtime cohort Kasim Sulton on bass, Rundgren, dressed down in T-shirt and jeans for this segment, and company tore through a mega-dose of guitar-fueled rock.

Call this part of the show Gen. Rundgren and his Guitar Army as Todd and two other guitarists reigned a campaign of classic fretboard slash and burn upon the unsuspecting faithful. Tearing it up on Cream songs with bassist Jack Bruce during his recent stint as the designated guitarist on Ringo Starr's All Starr Band tour must have left Todd with an itch to keep rocking, because a focused Rundgren meant serious business during this part of the show.

Fusing classic power pop with some very heavy licks and anvil riffing, the boys showed off their garage band charm during numbers like "Hammer In My Heart" and "Love In Action," with Todd peeling off one ripping guitar solo after another. They soared through two songs Rundgren released exclusively on his fan-supported Web site, "The Surf Talks," and "Hit Me Like a Train." Not to be lost in the shuffle were the tidy four-part harmonies that were caked like frosting over this glorious noise. The resultant intermission was most welcome as most of those whose worlds Rundgren had just rocked probably spent the time looking on the club's floor for spare brain cells that had been shaken loose.

But the second time around, our crafty hero trotted out his tiki lounge persona, which is based on his 1997 "With A Twist" album and tour. In this guise, a kinder, gentler Rundgren performed many of his well-known hits in a bossa nova style that only he could get away with. It's a clever idea that works as his sprightly, wry pop molds itself well into the Latin lounge arrangements that also contain plenty of samba and jazz overtones. This split personality gig worked to perfection.

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6/13/1999 - Roxy - West Hollywood, CA

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