Todd & company pulled into town last evening for the first of a two-night stand at the Grafitti Showcase here in Pittsburgh. This was my first time in the Grafitti and I was very pleased with the venue. Small club atmosphere, very intimate and even though we arrived pretty much after everyone else and had to take a seat in the upper reaches of the club we still had great seats. This is one of those clubs where you see acts either on their way up or on their way down. Big draws need not apply. This is the smallest venue I've ever seen Todd perform and I was kinda surprised when I first saw that he was now playing the smaller stops. But, I must admit the up-close, more personal club atmosphere is a nice change from the herding onto lawn "seats" that seems to be the rage of late.
If you've read any of the reviews from earlier tour stops then you pretty much know the lineup of songs. They opened with "The Surf Talks" and closed with "A Dream Goes on Forever" and they kept pretty much to the playlist. Its not the playlist I would have written up for them, but hey, everyone has their favorites. Considering the size of Todds song catalog (including Nazz & Utopia) at this point in time, he certainly could have picked a whole slew of more "pop", read popular, tunes to play in the first set, but alas he didnt. This left my wife "out of it" since shes more of a casual listener and is geared more towards the pop tunes.
"The Surf Talks" was a great opener and really sounded great. The harmonies were tight, the guitar work rocked and it really got things off to a good start. Much better as a live tune than a download. I always liked "Unloved Children" and it is a good concert tune. Its great hearing Todd play leads live again, hes not afraid of hitting the high notes which Ive always loved about his guitar work. "Love in Action" cant help but get your toes tapping and I must admit mine were atappin. The other tunes in the set were fun to hear live and I have been singing the chorus to "World Wide Epiphany" off & on today. (A better hook than song). If you were going to hear "Hello, its me", dont hold your breath, I would guess that after 30+ years of singing that song I might avoid it too if I were Todd. Todds demeanor for the first set was very business-like for lack of a better term. They came out and plowed through the songs, very little audience interaction or speaking. I thought perhaps he was in a bad mood, 30 years of touring has got to start wearing on you soon or a later, but the second "Bossa Nova" set dispelled that thought.
The second set was different for sure, but enjoyable no less. This is the set where the more "classic AM" tunes get the nightclub lounge "elevator" treatment. Lets not mince words, ok. This is more "Todd unplugged" than "Todd meets The acoustic Miami Sound Machine". You can dress up the stage in cheap Tikki lounge props, but theres very little actual Bossa-Nova going on. Which is great really because who really wants to hear Bossa-Nova.
This is the stronger set when you look at song selection, but because its "kinda" unplugged and the treatments are a little different it changes the whole feel. Todd really opened up in this segment. Audience banter etc,etc. and his voice, which was a bit strained in the 1st set , was right on the mark throughout this quieter, gentler set. They pretty much played all the hits, except as stated earlier "Hello, its Me". "Born to Synthesize" was given a more comedic than serious treatment and this is the tune where the guitar & piano players get their chance to showcase their talents. Talented though they be, if this tune was dropped tomorrow I dont think there would be much complaining. I longed for the old live version I saw in 75!
My wifes favorites were Im so Proud /Ooh Baby,Baby. (Two other artist tunes!!) As I said shes a casual listener and she loves oldies! We both agreed though that it would have been preferable if they dropped the lounge act and just added these tunes to their 1st set. Oh well, you take whats offered, right?
In conclusion, it was a pleasant evening spent with Todd & the boys in a great atmosphere. If thats what youre in the mood for than Todd delivers.