Review, Jaxx, October 20, 2001

Review by Tim Stanton (Switch to

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The best thing about the show was Todd's voice, which was unbelievably strong. He was hitting everything, with great emotion in his voice. Everyone was commenting on this. This show, if you can catch him early before he gets tired or sick, is almost worth it must for that. Almost.

Or not. Todd starts with acoustic guitar, leading off with...anybody want to guess? That's right, everybody, he starts with "Love of the Common Man." Then "Cliche." Todd has recorded a zillion albums, and written ten zillion songs. Why won't he play them?

After a few more acoustic guitar tunes ("Lysistrata" was quasi-innovative, and "I Don't Want to Tie You Down" was new on the Tiki tour, and is still the "new" song), he switched to piano.

Todd should absolutely never play piano in concert again. What is the point? He admits he can't, and it's just not cute anymore having him stop and restart. Also, if you guessed the five songs he played on piano, you'd probably get four of them. The same old stuff.

Then came the big disappointment. Jesse Gress came onstage. Now, this is an unbelievable talent who has literally written the book on fingerstyle guitar. So what does Todd do? He gets out a Palm Pilot or MP3 player and it turns into karoake, with Todd doing the entire WAT album, between this part of the show and the encore. On three WAT songs ("Mated," "Dream Goes on Forever" and "Never Neverland," and also on "Lucky Guy") it was just Jesse and Todd and no MP3. These were absolutely the highlights of the evening, and were up there with anything I've ever seen Todd do. Transcendent. Then he cranks up the karaoke again and I might as well have been in my living room.

The worst part about the karaoake: do you remember the "Gong Show?" They had a house band called Milton DeLugg and his Band with a Thug. They were actually pretty good, accompanying the hideous talent. But when the act supplied its own recorded music, to dance to, juggle to or whatever, when the music ran out Milton and his boys would kind of jump in and add an ending to the song. Quite often, the recording was a half-tone different than Milton's boys were tuned, so it usually sucked.

That was Jesse last night. The atrocious canned accompaniment would end, and there would be poor Jesse left playing alone, having to come up with a riff to wrap it up. It was sooooooo bad.

Then Todd played solo on electric - yes, that's right, "Tiny Demons" - then the encore with Jesse I mentioned earlier. For a second encore Todd came out and sat at the piano and started into "Hawking." I just didn't have it in me, and left.

I expect there were 10 people in the crowd who are better keyboard players than Todd. Why can't he just do it TodPod style?

To summarize: go to this show to hear him sing, but go knowing you've heard EVERYTHING before, and most of it previously arranged and presented infinitely better.

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10/20/2001 - Jaxx - Springfield, VA

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