as previous reviews have pointed out, this tour is straight ahead no-holds-barred guitar heaven. it was blisteringly loud, but i'm not necessarily complaining. just be prepared.
kasim and trey were outstanding. my wife, who is unfamiliar with the utopia history, asked, "who was that young guy on the bass? he works well with todd." whatever kinks needed to be worked out in santa cruz, etc. were not apparent, to the benefit of the highly appreciative LA crowd. the great thing about this tour is that each set is unique. all the more reason to see multiple shows of this tour.
most enthusiastically received was #1 LCD, and rightfully so. intense. LOTCM and B&W, tunes i've heard countless times before, were solid, due to todd's conviction to playing the songs like he really wanted to get them across. he was really connected. COULDN'T I JUST TELL YOU was a joy to hear, especially since my band had just performed it 3 nights earlier at our own show in LA (see below).
i absolutely dug I HATE MY FRICKIN ISP. i hadn't heard the song before. what a solid statement to open the show. YER FAST was turbo-charged; todd's heaviest piece of work since the oops wrong planet days. among my faves was CLICHE. again, i've heard this song many many times live, but never with this intensity and fragile beauty. the perfect marriage of todd's guitar/vocal acumen. this and BANG ON THE DRUM were an excellent break in the sonic onslaught. todd's treatment of this on the uke gives the song a breath of new life.
every time i've seen PLAY THIS GAME performed (starting with the '85 Utopia/Tubes tour), there always seems to be some sort of technical flub or gaffe. during the aforementioned club caprice nightmare, he made it to the second verse before aborting it rather than attempt the demanding vocal acrobatics. this night, he was up to the task vocally, and the song was tight, but not a highlight (on a night of numerable highlights). TRAPPED, on the other hand, was a hard-driven gem. kasim's finest moment. his vocals sure are purty. pristine. and todd's jagged, edgy guitar punctuated this tune especially effectively.
OPEN MY EYES was great to hear, but a little anti-climactic, judging from some of the words of high praise i had read from earlier shows. but it is the figurative origin of OH, and a definite treat. TEMPORARY SANITY, with its corpusle-bursting bass line, sounded full and together, and yes, todd's rap was in da house. contrary to some purists' opinions, i thought it was cool was todd glimpsed into rapid-fire rhyming verse in recent years.
FIX YOUR GAZE was nifty. this was a perfect example of kasim's mere presence pushing the song into the realm of viability. BUFFALO GRASS was another new tune that seemed like an individualist leftover.
THE IKON, which appeared surprisingly early on in the set, was pure rocket fuel, but i've heard it performed before ('92 redux tour, santa clara) and it was much more special the first time because it was completely unexpected. i agree with a previous reviewer: to hear some of the delicate vocal parts of this song would have made it absolutely brilliant. i'll go one further: to hear excerpts from utopia theme (specifically the guitar riff that emerges near the end of the song) instead would have put me into the stratosphere.
WORLDWIDE EPIPHANY was indeed a great closer, but also was bittersweet to hear because i knew this would be the final tune of a magnificent evening.
and THANK GOD he didn't waste his time with "you've got to throw your love away." great song, don't get me wrong. but a) i heard him do it before at HOB in '97 for a solo tour, b) it's not lennon's birthday, and c) it's a throwaway number that takes up space that would be better served by a selection from his own ample catalog.
in a nutshell, the cream is definitely rising to the top, as far as song selection goes. the absence of mystified/broke down was not glaring. that territory was sufficiently covered by some of the other tunes. surf talks and hit me like a train pale in comparison to the new songs included in this set.
this tour is inspired. definitely a must-see. for the faithful, not the faint of heart. i hope to make anaheim on sunday. can't do ventura; my ears need a rest. rock on
**Jason Dean Band Experience performs a killer version of this todd classic at PowerPopFest July 25 at the Ban-Dar in Ventura (appearing with Cockeyed Ghost). for more info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org