I was at the inaugural concert last year, almost a year to the day, in the wonderous Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. This day, it was very cool inside, or maybe that was just the feeling I had, because outside it was 107 at concert time. For those of you unfamiliar with the venue, the Celebrity Theater is a "theater-in-the-round" that also has a rotating stage. No seat is more than 75 feet from the stage and the sound system is superb. I would guess that close to 3,000 avid fans were in attendance.
Right from the start, it was very apparent that this was Todd's band. That he was the leader. He stood center-stage with Christopher Cross and Alan Parsons to his left and Jack Bruce and Mark Farner to his right - started the night off with "A Hard Days Night". Two other Beatles songs followed.
The night went pretty much like last year - except that each "soloist" only had two of their own hits to sing, compared to last years three. And rather than switch from artist to artist, most of the group sang two in a row. I was really hoping that Todd would treat us to something different this year, but he ran through "Open My Eyes" and another lounge act version of "Hello It's Me". I expected more from him. It certainly wasn't from lack of talent from the other band members.
Christopher Cross was a VERY special surprise, performing "Sailing" in that beautiful tenor that hasn't lost a thing! Did anyone realize that he's also a pretty good guitarist? He strapped on an electric, said he was going to play some "Texas Rock 'n Roll" and proceeded to launch into a sizzling version of "Ride Like The Wind". Each band member also played a Beatles song in their solo set. Christopher did "Here, There and Everywhere".
Mark Farner was next and he looked like he just stepped out of a Grand Funk time machine, set for 1970. Hair down to his waist, Indian beaded arm-band, buff arms - he looked like he was ready to play with Mel and Don. His first song was a surprise..."I'm In Love with a Girl". Not one that I would pick. "Closer To Home" had everyone singing. His Beatle track of choice was a very original arrangement of "Taxman".
Jack Bruce literally brought the house down. Geoffrey Townshend, also back from last year's band, played Eric Clapton for "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "White Room". Jack went into the croud for one of his incredible bass solos. Hard to believe that he's pushing 60!
Alan Parsons played the same two songs as last year, "Games People Play" and "Eye In The Sky".
The Beatles medley after intermission was solid. I did like how everyone started out with an "Unplugged " looking set, with everyone perched on wooden stools. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely - even Todd, who disappeared for most of the first half of the show. In this second half, he took control and sang lead on most all the songs. Ending with the "Abbey Road Medley", it was a very spirited show and greatly appreciated.
I would hope that if this becomes an annual affair (like Sir Ringo's!) that a little more thought would be placed in new members, and new songs. I still think Todd is God, but I would like to retire "Hello It's Me".