My wife, Cece , and I arrived at the Radisson about 5:45 to wait in line for the 6:30 admission (to the 7:30 show). The sun was beating down pretty hard, but we secured a good place in line, only about 20 folks ahead of us. The local "Classic Rock" station had a remote, and long-time Sacto DJ Bob Keller was sending in little promos. Cece went over a talked with him a bit (though not on the radio) while I kept our place in line. The station did a great job of promos during the day, and even put in a few Abbey Road and artist mini-documentaries on the air (heard one for Todd while we were in line).
A 6:30, we were let in for our general admission seating, and we secured greats seats in row 3, center. Yes, seats. A real luxury, as most of the shows I've been to in the Bay Area are stand up affairs. The sun was still beating down, but it was setting, and after about 45 minutes, we were finally in the shade. With only a few looks of recognition, Alan Parsons walked across in front of the stage and stopped to talk to a couple of people. Todd was occasionally spied in the wings.
While waiting for the show to begin, I took a quick trip to the rear sound board to meet and greet Todd's perennial sound man, Larry Toomey. We chatted briefly about the confusing schedule (he once had to come to my site to try to figure out where they were going. In fact, they only discovered the night before that they had to be in Sacto this night, and not the next as was originally scheduled) and the possible departure of Eric Carmen from the tour. I also found some folks that had attended recent ToddFest/West events and greeted them.
Finally, Bob Keller came out to introduce the show, indicating the level of talent that would be on stage tonight. The boys soon arrived on stage and set into the playlist. A playlist for the previous night's show in San Diego was circulating, and I managed to snag a copy for reference. A couple of songs in a different order, plus "Day Tripper" which apparently didn't get played in San Diego, but nothing was omitted.
Going in, I knew this wasn't going to be a "Todd show" and was well prepared for his absence during most of the first set. But during his time to shine, he shone indeed. From the opening group tunes, to his solo numbers, "Rain" and "Open My Eyes", he was in charge, on and rocking. He put down the guitar for a very soulful rendition of "Hello, It's Me", one of the better I've heard live, and the crowd ate it up, providing the first of several standing Os during the evening. As Todd disappeared, the other stars came forth to shine. The only constant during the first set was Jack Bruce, he played on every song, and the backup band of Godfrey Townsend - guitar, Steve Murphy - drums and John Beck - bass. And they were hot.
Mark Farner was introduced by Todd as a "friend for the last 30 years" and he set his style early as a man of motion, struttin' and moving all over the stage. Hair longer than Todd's, and wearing a shiny red vest, he opened with a great riff for "Taxman." The song was updated for modern times substituting "Mr. Bush" for "Mr. Heath." He asked the audience if anyone else had a "first wife" and then went into "Bad Time", then closed with a great "I'm Your Captain."
Christopher Cross was introduced and did "For No One" on acoustic introducing it as John's favorite song of Paul's (the banter looks to be pretty much the same as other shows) and did the Grandma joke as well during his set. He did his own songs "Sailing" and "Ride Like The Wind" on electric providing a great guitar solo during the latter. Mr.Charisma he's not on stage, but his higher voice and guitar playing really added to the show.
Alan Parsons fired up his synth for the opening sequence to "Eye in the Sky" and was joined by Jack, Godfrey and Chris. Alan handled his own vocals well, "And I Love Her" and "Games People Play' (again with the synth on auto-pilot) closed out his set. Mark joined for a solo on "Games."
As inquired in "Games," "Where Do We Go From Here?" Only up, as Jack Bruce finally got his featured segment, though he'd been a solid stage presence up to that point. "Sunshine of your Love" got a solid backing with Godfrey on the Clapton riffs, and a great rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" with Jack taking the vocals sans bass. Then a transcendent "White Room", again with Godfrey as God, brought down the house. Yeah, Todd could have done it, too, and many fans would like to see the Rundgren/Bruce pairing from the Ringo tour, but GT certainly deserved the spotlight, and the fans could not be happier. The applause was thunderous.
As if you could go anywhere after that, the whole band came on stage and ended the first set with a blazing "Back in the U.S.S.R." and Todd set the stage once again as the man in charge. Todd announced a "short intermission" and the band took a break.
Conversation with the folks around me was great, the crowd was really digging the show. I'm sure people were seeing Todd in a whole new light, or being introduced to him favorably for the first time.
The intermission was quick, no more than 10 minutes and the band returned, on stools and acoustic. Todd's 12-string took the sitar role and he the lead vocal on "Norwegian Wood." Mark took the lead on "Things We Said Today" and Chris on "Here, There and Everywhere." "I've Just Seen a Face" was delivered a little bit country by Todd, Alan did "If I Fell" and Todd returned with "Hide You Love Away" announcing that the audience join in (you know the drill.)
Featured as vocalist and guitarist on "Here Comes The Sun," Godfrey got his own solo spotlight with the George Harrison tribute section. Todd joined on electric to wrap it up, then switched to the SG for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." And weep it did, the crowd was wowed, and Todd got another big standing O for his performance.
""We Can Work It Out" (Chris on vocals) led into "I Should have Known Better" with Todd on lead vocals and Alan on harmonica. During that song, spontaneous dancing broke out at stage front, and the area was never clear again.
And the hits kept a comin'. "Eight Days a Week" (TR, CC, MF), "Ticket To Ride " (TR), "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and a rousing "Birthday" finished on the second set.
The crowd was not appeased, and demanded an encore. We were rewarded by "Revolution,", Jack on "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End" I was expecting Todd to do the ripping solo on "The End" but he and Mark did the rhythm guitar thing and left the trade-off solos to Godfrey and Chris, who nailed 'em.
All in all, a show that exceeded my expectations, and delivered a very commanding Todd presence. Despite it not being a "Todd show," he was definitely showcased and a fixture at center stage.
A Hard Day's Night Day Tripper
Todd Rain w/Mark Open My Eyes Hello It's Me
Mark Taxman Bad Time (To Be In Love) w/ Alan I'm Your Captain w/Alan
Chris For No One w/ Jack on fretless Sailing Ride Like The Wind
Alan Eye In The Sky And I Love Her Games People Play
Jack Sunshine of Your Love Eleanor Rigby White Room Back In The U.S.S.R.
Norwegian Wood Things We Said Today Here, There and Everywhere I've Just Seen A Face If I Fell You've Got To Hide Your Love Away Here Comes The Sun While My Guitar Gently Weeps We Can Work It Out I Should Have Known Better Eight Days a Week Ticket To Ride I Want To Hold Your Hand Birthday
Revolution Golden Slumbers Carry That Weight The End