The songs chosen, while being wonderful compositions, have now entered the realm of overkill. Todd is preaching these as Top 40 hits to the converted. We know they're great songs, but the prototype Todd fan has never been interested in hits. You would think by now Todd would realize that a set of relatively obscure songs chosen from his vast songlist would certainly be preferred to rehashing the same-o same-o in the absence of NEW MATERIAL. Recent years have offered shows of "My Greatest Hits, Straight or Lounge." At least the Power Trio, while being an absolutely conventional approach for most, was a new take on familiar material for TR.
I've seen TR shows over the past four years at Club Bene, the Keswick Theater in PA, and now Monmouth University where the same basic material was delivered with obvious boredom. Even the comments to the audience are delivered with a sarcasm that borders on contempt. Remember the days of fans bringing all sorts of oddball gifts to the shows and TR would pause to interact with the audience over them? Nowadays he hides behind sunglasses and barely cracks a smile. It's like watching some cranky recluse practicing his old songs in the basement, screaming to hit the high notes while the lyrics cry out for subtlety.
Am I being too harsh? Perhaps. Missed chords and strained vocals aside, there were also some genuine highlights last night. Notably, "Song of the Viking" which has inexplicably become a favorite of TR live, was played with zest. "Hawking", while lacking the lush arrangement for which it is familiar, was presented as a delicate plea for pity. I found a couple of tears rolling out of my eyes, surprising myself. The "With a Twist" portion, replete with MP3 player, was beautifully played and sung, especially "A Dream Goes On Forever" when the MP3 was shut off so we could hear the nuances of Jesse's performance. And some bizarre piano/yelling thing TR conjured up was a hoot but ended after about 8 bars.
The venue was conducive to a wonderful intimate evening of music, but it felt like TR would have none of it. Like the Club Bene show where he noodled around with the Internet connection so the world would have access to the show (while the paying fans were ignored), again we saw a performance half-heartedly phoned in.
Todd, the multitudes are crying for an elpee's worth of toons (and the followup concert). Don't forget us; we're still with you on the road to Utopia.