Todd Rundgren Trio at Irving Plaza, New York City. August 9, 2000

Review by Mark A. Steinberg (Switch to

My Todd evening started off a little before 6PM by my finding a parking place directly in front of Irving Plaza. How could it get better than this? There was a group of faithful sitting on a blanket in front of the club. As I locked my van I saw Todd's tour manager Mary Lou Arnold walk by with Todd. He said a few words to the group on the street and entered the club. These folks on the street had their Mac with them! Where else but at a Todd Rundgren show do you find fans on line that literally are On-line? I asked them if I had any email and wandered the city for a couple of hours till the doors opened.

Back at the club before the 8 PM door opening it was the usual hodgepodge of the die hards and those who barely knew who Todd Rundgren was. It still boggles my mind after all these years that Todd is not known by the majority of the public. Luckily I didn't have to wait in the block long line that stretched down Irving Place. Mary Lou had put me on the after show pass list as I had some CD's I wanted to give to Todd. When I bought the ONE LONG YEAR disc recently I discovered that there was something on the Disc that I had actually recorded myself. That was the "Bang on the Ukulele Daily" Cut From the International Place in Boston from 2-4-99. I had recorded a tape of that show on my DAT recorder and now I'm seeing it on Todd's newest legitimate release! It seems the Bootleg grapevine works in strange circles and the show I'd recorded had made it's way to the Man! The problem was that the Quality of the cut that He used on the CD was much worse than the mixing board DAT master tape which I have in my possession. So I called Mary Lou and told her I'd like to get a digital copy of the show to Todd so He could have it for His archives. Mary Lou called me back after discussing the situation with Todd and said He'd be thrilled to have a better copy. I told Her I was going to the Irving plaza show already and If she'd give me a pass I'd deliver the goods to Todd in person.

I hadn't seen Todd in New York City since 1984 and the Utopia "oblivion" tour at Pier 84. This was my second show of the 2000 summer tour, I saw the Mohegan Sun Casino show in June as I freelance there as a sound engineer. Unfortunately I didn't get to see that show in its entirety and I was really looking forward to the Irving Plaza show. Outside Irving Plaza I asked some of the folks if anyone had seen any of the recent shows from the tour which had just started it's second and last leg, last week. I found a group of folks that had seen 8 shows on this tour. I learned from them that Todd had strained his voice the previous night at the show at the Woodlands in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. I joked that maybe tonight's show was supposed to have taken place at Toad's Place in New Haven, CT. as Todd has a history of having the strained vocal chord syndrome at his Toad's performances.

Inside the club, the scene was noisy and dark and I awaited the start of the show. Right on schedule the band hit the stage at 9:30 to the strains of "I Hate My Frickin' ISP". It was clear from the start that Todd had in fact screwed His voice up and that this was going to be "one of those shows". The band looked pumped to be in NYC though and followed with "Couldn't I Just Tell You". Todd played a few wrong notes and it appeared that looseness was going to be the theme of the show. The sound mix was very muddy in the beginning of the show but was soon straightened out. Overall it was a good sounding show though there were a few brief moments of bass overload. Next was a good version of "Love Of The Common Man". "Black and White" rocked with reckless abandon and was followed by a Fantastic version of "Trapped". "Trapped" has always been one of my favorite Utopia songs and it's great to have Kasim Sultan along so we can hear Utopia songs like these. "Love in Action" was next and really got the crowd into a frenzy. When the band did the "Stop" thing (where they false stop and then continue) I was anticipating them to continue on with the song but they didn't. Instead they launched into "Yer Fast (And I like it)", This song rocks heavily and seems to really be one of Todd's favorites these days. (No wings though, maybe David Letterman stole them last week.) From "Yer Fast" they launched into "Secret Society" from the POV album, the first of the songs that use the samples that Trey Sabatelli triggers from behind his drum kit. Next was "#1 Lowest Common Denominator" and "There Goes My Inspiration". "Fix Your Gaze" was next and made my night as this is one of my favorite tunes. Acoustic time started and instead of "ClichÈ" Todd wanted to play something without falsetto. He joked that people know "The Wheel" has falsetto but still call for it anyway. (Todd, They'll always call for "The Wheel", You know that.) Instead we got "Tiny Demons" in honor of the throat syndrome and it was an appropriate choice. Next was "Bang on the Ukulele Daily" with a hurried intro. Special Guest Jesse Gress was then introduced and the group launched into a stellar "Mystified > Broke Down And Busted". After mystified it looked like Todd was trying to figure out what to play. He started "Love In Action" again and Kasim started cracking up laughing as they had already played the song earlier in the set. Todd tried to redeem himself by saying that they never finished the "Stop" segment of the song but it was clear he simply screwed up. That was a great moment! Clearly embarrassed the band continued with "Hammer In My Heart", "Buffalo Grass" was next and the set closed with "One World".

All four band members emerged quickly for the encore and played the "The Ikon > Open My Eyes". "Worldwide Epiphany" closed the show as the second encore and the throngs emptied out of the second floor club onto Irving Place. Outside the club a few people were handing out handbills to a show that is happening in NYC on August 11, 2000 by The Freak Parade, a new band featuring Moogy Klingman and Kevin Ellman from the original Utopia band. Too bad those guys weren't included in the Special guest segment of the show!

After the club cleared out I went upstairs to wait for my audience with Todd to give Him the recording I had made from the Boston 2-4-99 show and a copy of the Interview I did with Him February 20,1999 ( My interview is accessible on the "The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect" page on this site). When I saw Todd and gave Him the Recording, He stated that He'll probably post it on the Patronet so everybody will be able to hear the show in it's entirety. I left swiftly as I had over a two hour drive to get back to Connecticut and I can only hope that Todd is not seriously thinking of hanging up the practice of touring. There's nothing like a Todd Rundgren concert. Todd Rocks And I Like it!!!!

Mark Steinberg

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