A Wizard at Work, 10/21/01 @ Northern Lights

Review by Jay Martin (Switch to

Sheesh! Are people critical or what?! I have seen Todd about 25 times over the years since my virgin experience at Central Park in 1973, and in many forms - solo, Utopia, big band, power trio. The Northern Lights show was one of the best solo shows I've ever seen him do (light years better than his last trip to this venue). Yeah, he goofs up a lot and he could use some new tunes on the set list, but it's Todd live in an intimate setting! It reminded me of seeing one of my other heroes this summer, Brian Wilson. Sure, he's a shadow of his former greatness - but those songs!

I was thrilled when I walked in and saw a white baby grand on the stage, no electric piece of crap. Todd came out and did 5 songs on his black Takamine electric acoustic. His voice was strong and sounded great. He also appeared to be in a great mood, making witty comments and telling stories between songs. The large (for Northern Lights on a Sunday night) crowd was full of knowledgeable Toddophiles who knew the words to all the songs (and helped Todd out when he forgot lines). It sounded like a collegiate glee club on "Free, Male and 21". And the audience made up for the lack of backing musicians on "Slut" and "Love in Action". Todd was even inspired to do the traditional kicks at the end of "Action" on the small stage. I don't care what the naysayers offer, I thought the 5 songs played on the piano were the high points of the evening. Todd made few mistakes and sounded to me like he had been practicing. I'm partial to the piano tracks on Runt, Ballad, S/A and Hermit, and I've always thought that Todd uses interesting chording (ask Moogy!). Jesse Gress came out and he and Todd played a total of 11 songs in the Bossa Nova mode. While I love the "Twist" album and Jesse is an amazing player, I agree with those who say it's time to drop this shtick. The mp3 player is not amusing and we've heard this too many times before. "Lucky Guy", "Never, Never Land", "Difference", "I Saw the Light" and "Can We Still Be Friends" all would have been heavenly on piano. When Todd came out for the first encore and everyone was yelling requests, I called for "Chain Letter", one of my favorites that Todd never does. I was in front of the stage by Jesse and I nearly had a heart attack when he started playing the opening chords of that song! It was a false alarm, but it confirms to me what another fan said, Todd has hundreds of great songs but he plays the same ones over and over. 

Overall, I had a great time, enjoying a jovial, great sounding rock legend perform for two hours in an intimate setting with a bunch of other Todd fanatics. What do you want for $20? I even got to shake his hand!

One last thing. Todd, take a cue from your friends, The Tubes. When they played at Northern Lights, they came out shortly after the show ended to sign things and chat with fans. It's the kind of thing your loyal fans expect and deserve.

Set List:

Love of the Common Man
I Don't Want to Tie You Down
Hammer in My Heart
Song of the Viking
Free, Male and 21
Too Far Gone
I Saw the Light
Lady Madonna
Can We Still Be Friends
It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
Lucky Guy
Never Never Land
Love in Action
One World

1st Encore - I Want You Love is the Answer A Dream Goes on Forever

2nd Encore- Hawking

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10/21/2001 - Northern Lights - Clifton Park, NY

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