It's Saturday night, May 27, Kalamazoo, MI, about 90 min before showtime and this is one desolate downtown. The only people on the street are looking for someplace to kill some time before the show at the State Theatre....and there are very few places open. I parked my car about a block and a half away and started walking. Then "Taahhdd..." echoes thru the air...such a normal sound to hear at any Todd show, and I look across the street and there is The Man himself as big as life with his big hair black and white and blazing and walking quite briskly. He's the only one on the street other than the fan tailing him and they may be acquainted as they both sit down at one of the sidewalk tables. There may have been some photos up for approval and it's great to hear Todd's voice booming and reverberating all over the empty downtown street. I have this great view from about 60 feet of Todd there and my car in the immediate background. I was dying to ask him if he'd bless my newly installed brake system, ya know, just for good luck, but thought better. I have great respect for performers . They don't need fans pissing them off before the show....That must be why they tend to walk so briskly. I was a bit disturbed that The Man appeared to be drinking a Snapple. Todd, there's no Vitamin C in Snapple! (the last time I checked). Then Kasim Sultan showed up and it was so wonderful to see these 2 greats walking down this vacant street. I did walk by and gave a stupid smile and it may or may not have registered. If I was 10 years younger I would have sidled up along side them and asked any number of stupid questions. Ya know I've got a lot of them. (Hey, Todd, how much do you get every 3 months just for that Bat Out of...?") But I know less is more...so I don't bother them.
I first saw Todd and Utopia with Kas in 1977 at Pine Knob during the RA tour with the Pyramid, Sphinx, and dancing water. AWESOME. It still stands out as the best show I've ever been to. They must have been on their way to the Radisson.....As I killed some more time, eventually Mary Lou Arnold came walking down the street. She once got me into a Todd show in Grand Rapids (Nearly Human tour). It was sold out and I tried to bribe the bouncer with more money (and this is a bar, for godsakes!) but some excuse about the fire code. Thank God Mary Lou came in thru the front door as I was milling about and she got me in as one on the guest list! I'll always remember my elation of saving the $15.00 ticket price and proceeding to put it all into beer! Life is good!.......But today I didn't bother her either. I have great respect for the talent and how hard every day can be on the road. Many performers prefer to be left alone. I appreciate that. OK...ON WITH THE SHOW...
This was one great Rock show with minimal problems and a decent sound throughout. They kicked off with ISP which was well recieved and then into PLAY THIS GAME. While I was anticipating the killer guitar solo, Todd headbutts the mic to the ground and there's a huge broken string dangling...he goes for the solo but the tuning is whacked, so the tech quickly gives him a Rickenbacher while Kas and Trey vamp like the great pros they are...theres some verbal agreement between them all and the vocals come back together at "stand in my corner" but no more solo. Too bad...I've always loved that solo since I first heard it live when Utopia opened for the Tubes at Pine Knob in 85(?) with Todd wearing some kind of leather space suit...and I was the only one in the first 10 rows to stand up and shout "Yeah! Todd!..." Such a dull suburban crowd. (They didn't get the Tubes either until the last song)...BUT.. the crowd here tonight was totally supportive and actually seemed to enjoy the mishap. They finish and Todd quips something like "We are the Men in Black, we'll zap all the screwups from your memory by the end of the night..." LOVE IN ACTION was totally hot and one of the highlights with the crowd. A very cool IKON with no vocals.....a totally 60's OPEN MY EYES so great to hear in this day...(my order goes south here) COULDN'T I JUST TELL YOU was fabulous and as history goes certainly the blueprint for all the power pop to come after. A cool ONE WORLD with localized lyrics....A very Hendrix influenced #1 LOWEST...many new songs I'm unfamiliar with...MYSTIFIED was such a cool groove showing Todd's blues roots....and a final encore of WORLD WIDE Ep which is a great closer.
But NO Trapped, Hammer, acoustic interlude, or Bang. Our loss. Todd made a few comments about his voice but he was very strong the whole night. He could get some relief if Kasim could front a few. He only has one of the greatest Rock voices ever, right along with Todd. Wouldn't it be great to hear "Set me free" or "My angel" for the first time. Dreaming, yes, I know.
Techwise, the whole set could fit in a station wagon. Three amps and a drumset. UNBELIEVABLE. No monitors either. Just green earphones. AMAZING.I wonder if their ears ring more or less the morning after with these new "Ear Monitors." I've never seen anyone use them before without floor monitors.
Overall, this was one great Rock show. I was proud to be there and proud to be part of this audience. It was also great to see 2 VERY young kids in the audience (boy and girl) they had to be about 4th graders. I hope I can bring my kids to see Todd one day (gotta get some first)
Finally, during the final encore, I did manage to sneak down to the first row and I swear Kas did smile at me...or maybe he was just laughing at this guy with big earplugs sticking halfway out his head..either way, LIFE IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!! and if you have kids of any age you should bring them to see Todd, Kas, and Trey this summer. You'll all receive a great education in how to kickass!