i arrived around 5pm in order to catch the great milwaukee band bluehand (http://www.execpc.com/~mhaasch/index.html) lay down another excellent 2 set show that mixed many of their original tunes - slice-o-pie, bad dog day, in your arms, cry a bloody river, and tuna stomp - with covers like with a little help from my friends (cocker style), purple haze, ohio, midnight rider, monkey man, babe i'm gonna leave you, and hocus pocus-a rare summerfest encore due to the enthusiastic crowd being on their feet. front men peter alt and scott finch are fabulous musicians/writers that are complemented by one of the tightest rhythm sections known to man. after hanging with bluehand for a bit after the show, and getting their new double disc signed, it was time to change stages so i headed off to the briggs and stratten stage and eagerly awaited the arrival of AWDAR. one of milwaukee's finest female-fronted bands, framing amy, was putting on their final electric performance for a very excited crowd. they provided a great warmup for the dung beatles.
the pilgrimage to summerfest for todd has become an annual event as he has graced our fest for the past three years, with the power TRio and two abbey road shows, and many of us "regulars" were there so it was a homecoming of sorts that easily bonded rundgren junkies with beatle lovers. this was a festival show with time constraints so the setlist was trimmed down quite a bit and there was no intermission or unplugged set.
a local deejay announced the artists involved (including eric carmen who had already left the tour) and todd got the largest response by far. a confident and dressed in black todd strolled onto the stage to massive applause as the band kicked off a rousing rendition of a hard day's night. the crowd was theirs from that moment on. day TRipper had the amazing godfrey townshend and todd sharing the main riff and amazing harmonies began to emerge from an excellent mix. an abreviated version of rain followed and it was no surprise who the leader of this band was as the front and center todd took charge and began to conquer. his voice was in prime form for sure. we were robbed for the first time tonight as open my eyes was skipped for a quite sloppy version of hello it's me in which the band got very confused and completely lost at the key change, despite todd's wonderful vocal effort at being somewhere between the two different songs emerging beneath him. todd-"pick a key and stick with it"-was visibly disturbed as the song crumbled to the ground destroying much of the momentum that had preceeded this favorite of the uninitiated...and then he left the stage for WAY too long on an anti-climactic note.
although farner's interpretation of taxman is unique it didn't quite work with me-neither did his strange and overly outdated dress and antics but the crowd really seemed to enjoy i'm your captain/closer to home as everyone sang along with the ending. twas fun but was glad to move on...to christopher cross, the shocking surprise of this tour. although sailing is a good song that features christopher's sweet voice, i was hoping for his rendition of for no one, off the fabulous revolver album, and i was still a little pissed about the removal of open my eyes. ride like wind followed with an incredibly surprising guitar solo from cross-i had no idea he could play that well-and great vocals from jack bruce, the thunderously driving rhythmic force of the band.
the seemingly reluctant parsons stepped up front for sirius/eye in the sky ("please welcome your three time world champion chicago bulls...") and was backed by the great harmonies emulating from the great sound system. games people play is a pretty lame song and i had to laugh as memories of last year's "bored todd" sprung to mind-perhaps it was best for him to sit this one out...godfrey did play a great solo although it was pretty much note for note from the album.
jack's time to shine approached with a sweetly strange version of elenor rigby and sunshine of your love. why does todd not get to tear his axe apart with bruce on this great cream classic? perhaps because godfrey "guitar glue" townshend deserves to wow the crowd again and he sure does as people scream madly with passion and ferver. we are ripped off again as white room is skipped...
...as is the acoustic set which surprised me slightly although it would have been a logistics nightmare and time was running out. the back-to-back george tunes provided a warm and loving TRibute to the often overlooked beatle lead guitarist. godfrey does an excellent here comes the sun and it was a sweet lead-in to the always welcome and very amazing while my guitar gently RIPS YOUR FACE OFF. wow! even though it was the third time seeing this performed for me it was still incredibly amazing, awesome, and unbelievably fantastic as todd pulls out the fool guitar and basically tears it to pieces in front of dropped jaws. man, this tune really cooks and todd's amazing lead guitar proficiencies really get to jump out front, proving that he's still one of rock's finest guitar slingers. much of the crowd is completely blown away! i had made it to the very front row for this awesome moment and not much really mattered after that - it is worth travelling any distance for this excellent song, the climax of the show for todd-lovers.
the rest of the show consisted of we can work it out, ticket to ride, i want to hold your hand, revolution (with todd screaming like a well-seasoned maniac), and the great golden slumbers/the end in which the primary lead axemen get to TRade solos at extreme volumes. amazing how todd's re-entrance kicked the band into high gear as he gets to be out front for much of the beatles' numbers.
the past two years TR has been at the miller jazz oasis stage and we had easy access to him as he had to walk through the crowd a bit when leaving the stage but this is not how the briggs and sTRatten stage works as there is a wooden fence of separation in place that kept us from OH and, as the festival grounds were closing for the night, we were quickly escorted out after glowing hugs of joy and excitement prevailed. several of us then met up at a downtown bar in hopes of catching todd there, as he had hung out there after last year's show, to no avail. but the fun sure did continue and ended with me performing one world on the street at bar time...thanks for the axe, doc.
a note of interest is that mary lou was there...perhaps she had to keep a watchful eye out for the man with a few days off in the midwest. the TRCD available at this show, in addition to discs from all the dung beatles, was one long year and the "have gun will TRavel" t-shirts (with 2 different backsides) were quite interesting and sold faster than all the other artists' shirts and the special fan-made "rundgren junkies" t-shirts were also a huge hit...thanks dan.
a special thanks also goes out to all the great people that i see in the front rows at each and every midwest todd show...there was a lotta love and great vibes were abound...you people are the best. huge thanks to cathy lee as well for the fine crash pad.
go see this show!