What a quiant and TRusting old time venue! No searches on the way in, accessible beverages served by local volunteer townspeople for very cheap, no seating nazis, schoolhouse urinals, and a smoking balcony just behind the merch table. The high school gymnasium atmosphere inside consisted of folding chairs, volunteer no-hassle security (the closest to us in a Love is the Answer shirt!), two sweet little balconies, and a very old-school house sound councel to feed the digiboards and the amazing Larry, who was about to once again make a bad venue sound great. Even the cute young photographer from the local paper seems overly TRusting as she drops her press ticket and listens to this crazy toddhead tell her who to shoot.
Slightly anti-climactic, soundman Larry barely caught the opening chord of hard daze night as todd made his first goofy face of the evening, a sign of things to come. Day TRipper is performed almost effortlessly as todd gets to wail ala lennon and godfrey provides some great fills and vocal moments. Todd's inTRoduction by christopher prior to rain (as a great performer and producer) brought some huge applause as the first, and most important, member of the ensemble took front and center. The Weavils had ended our show the night before with rain so this was very special to me and felt deliciously correct. I still wish they would carry out the psychedelic false ending section but plenty of jack bruce can be felt all about and the tight ending prevails. I now notice that the little cutie of a photographer is right at todd's feet and heeding my advice. He makes a few of those goofy faces at her and a lso a very natural pose.
As todd reaches for the fool guitar jack begins playing the very first notes of hello, it's me but TR overrides as he pounds out those opening chords of open my eyes that i had come so far to hear. The solo is screamingly phenomenal and full of nastily wicked energy while the closing choruses are belted out by bruce and gang with sweet bluster leading to another very tight ending, especially for a crew that has barely rehearsed and has had an unplanned week off. It's time to scream!
The crowd-pleasing reminder known as hello, it's me follows and the whole auditorium joins in on the chorus as smiles light up the room with familiarity...hey, i know this song. Anna seizes her moment and gets her day in the sun as she "leis" todd and gets the night's only public kiss from the individualist to rousing applause. The ending chorus of "think of me" suddenly makes bigtime sense...goodbye, it was he...and todd exits for WAY too long. I then turned to the crowd (from my front row seat-thanks jeff r.!) and proudly displayed my RUNDGEN JUNKIES t-shirt to bewildered looks of mixed confusion and jubilation(...thanks again for this unique, and now signed, shirt, dan).
This action didn't make sense to me upon the first viewing of this year's lineup (7.3.02 milwaukee, wi) but now it does as there are a lot of players up there and clutter must be avoided. I would love to have todd out there all night as he is the one i came to see but his presence may have disTRacted what the other folks was about to do, their own (and often cheesy) hits. This is when i'd like to be backstage...
You know the deal from here on out as farner lays down incredibly cheesy actions during a decently-reworked version of taxman and his GFRR hits bad time and i'm your captain/closer to home. Mark's movements are entertaining for a very short while (30 seconds?) and then drop into the land of surreal unbelievability as the hip gyrations, chicken sTRuts, and points upstairs to his savior become comical. Cross' rendition of "john's favorite song of paul's", for no one, was beautiful and godfrey's use of a TRombone patch shifted down an octave made us feel the french horn that wasn't there, reminding me of the ox. Christopher's sailing is timed perfectly for a bathroom/smoke break as one will re-arrive in time for some great leads from cross during ride like the wind...pretty impressive and really surprising as this "bad ass" can wail. I was glad to see that alan added and i love her as it is his favorite beatles song but parsons lead in to eye in the sky, sirius, is just TOO reminiscent of the three-time world champion chicago bulls for us midwesterners to take serious (ha!). It does flow well into the familiar hit that is sung with huge and full harmonies but very little emotion. I remember todd's silly faces during the next number and recall another reason alan may have asked our man to exit the stage as games people play begins with a pre-programed synth piece that takes us to fm ad nauseumland. Farner sTRuts out to ham up the big solo in the middle and i am reminded why the current lineup of GFRR doesn't take him on the road...i am doubled over with laughter.
JACK BRUCE-what else is needed to be said? A consumate professional with bass and vocal tones all his own, a legend from a time when rock not only mattered but reigned, and a sincerely animated character...also the only "marquee member" that never left the stage all night. Elenor Rigby was sung with much more raw emotion than in milwaukee and i really dug it as jack's voice stylings are very unique. The psychedelic classic sunshine of your love was TReated as a three piece and godfrey and steve really got to show off for the first time all night while recreating the powerful feel of cream. During this killer tune that heavily influenced NAZZ, jack got visibly upset as the spotlighter wasn't giving us jack. He walked over to the front and center mic (todd's) and back to his several times before stopping the song completely, forcing the lightman to get his act together, and then tearing into the opening bass riff like a possessed madman on fire...right in front of us. During this ensuing act of sacrificial terror jack TRips while falling backwards, lands on his back, and continues to jam with the fervor of a much younger man. He had TRipped over godfrey's pedalboard but joked it off after the tune with, "i fell over a piece of paper. i'm so sensitive, you know." Absolutely hilarious and classic. For white room they add the ever-present keyboardist john beck back into the mix for harmony lines with godfrey's guitar and the result is astounding as the crew takes us right to saturn without hope or want of a return flight-psychedelic rock at its finest.
Todd then comes back out to play ringleader to a rockin' back in the ussr before the band takes a break.
Break was fun as i sTRolled outside proudly displaying my todd colors for all to see. I met some interesting folks, including a local merchandising guy and an old-timer that told me of snake alley (sixth sTReet) and how we should visit it as its about the only thing alive in the downtown area. I met chris smith from K100fm as he seemed amused by my shirt and enthusiastic TR energy.
It was nice to get the relaxed six song acoustic set that featured the tightness of AWDAR's harmonies, the passing of the frontman torch, and some great rubber soul-sounding bits. This section builds up to the climaxes of todd's HEY, you've got to hide your love away (with big crowd participation) and godfrey's big moment with george's here comes the sun...
...which leads us right into the other reason a toddhead TRavels so far for these events,
while my guitar gently RIPS YOUR FACE OFF,
full of exTRemely powerful vocals and amazingly stinging guitar leads from one of rock's greatest! Todd's amp/stage volume was not very loud so even at his feet i had to sTRain to hear the leads but he pushed that gorgeous SG right in front of my eyeballs, i mean like an inch away from my contact lenses, as he demonsTRated his patented bent vibrato to me once more-incredibly unique and definitional rock and roll. As a guitarist i cannot begin to explain how amazing this moment is. This and open my eyes were the real highlights for me and i would TRavel twice as far to see it again...in an instant.
This is when the show became a dance party as people left their seats to fill the "dance floor" and boogie and sing along with classically familiar beatles numbers that we all know and love: we can work it out (CC), i should have known better (TR, AP on harmonica), 8 daze a week (all), ticket to ride (great TR vocals!!!!!), i wanna hold your hand (still there is more TR), and birthday (with a woman screaming, "it IS my birthday" loudly in our ears) with its great todd screams, especially during the bridge.
The "encore" numbers are pretty standard by now but their emotional power cannot be underestimated as the crew FINALLY plays a piece of abbey road, think about it...no tunes from their namesake until the very end may not be so intelligent. Todd gets way outside the box with amazing screams of passion during revolution, jack melts the entire room with his golden pipes during golden slumbers, carry that weight gets filled by the ensemble's incredible harmonies, and the end gets the ripping solo swaps of godfrey and christopher (yes, mr. cross!) while todd physically "abuses" keysman john beck while holding down rhythm along with the almost non-existent farner.
Todd reaches out to sign ONE autograph while onstage and it is my copy of TODD SINGS, the new japanese import from air mail recordings that is basically fungo bat. Surprisingly he asks, "where did you get this?!" as he grabbed my blue sharpie and signed it upon his leg.
overall, jack bruce was phenomenal (imagine!) and quite hilarious at points. todd is indeed the master ringleader and highlight...when on stage. he is forced to leave for way too long but could possibly add to clutter during much of those moments.
but the real fun was yet to come------
surprisingly, cheerleader alan was accessible in the post-show parking lot and even walked right up to me and said, "don't i know you?" as he put out his hand for a shake. "bad ass"-dressed christopher cross was also quick to join us chosen few, godfrey and mark made brief appearances, and todd hung out for quite some time - posing for pictures and signing a lot of stuff for peeps with the now-community blue sharpie, including my rundgren junkies shirt(on my "breasteses"). The band and crew then jumped into their van and left the venue's parking lot.
That stacked deck of cards was about to reveal a royal flush as the rest of this amazing evening begins to unfold and we follow the crew to the only open bar in town, pizzazz, which happens to be in the hotel where the band is staying...until 2 am when the bus is scheduled to leave. John beck is the first to arrive at the bar (to some bizzare looks from several customers) with his fire orange hair and plastic shades so i invite him over to our circle of madness that we have formed in the upper corner of the room. He immediately warms up to anna and starts to reveal his hilarious sense of humor to our blessed little crew and the bonding begins to form. Entwistle's boys were next to arrive as steve entered our circle followed closely by (clapton is) godfrey as the jokes are kicked up a notch, drinks begin to flow like rain, and insights are handed out freely.
Many things were brought up over big time laughs and heartfelt emotion:
alan parsons is so mellow they have to check his pulse
godfrey has a clapton cover band called Clapton is Godfrey...that one really through me for a loop as i thought it was exTRemely hilarious and he was just giving me a hard time
Much talk of john entwistle including the refutation of management's announcement of todd joining ent's band for the fall 2002 tour of europe; godfrey asked todd who said he was never contacted
1623=the year the cymbal company zildjan was founded...also the number on the back of steve's soccer jersey
Jack sang while my guitar gently weeps in todd's absence. "better", according to some members of the band-they seemed to constantly "rib" todd as they knew that he was why we were there
They demonsTRated their rehearsed harmonies of eric carmen's go all the way along with the dmx tunes overhead to our complete bewildered amazement...our jaws were all on the floor
Todd "doesn't play well with others"
They all ripped on my rundgren junkies shirt and came up with their own---kick the rundgren habit!
Godfrey also has a fool guitar that "is better" but todd doesn't like it when he pulls it out on stage.......
...as if scripted, todd shows up fashionably late at this very moment and scolds his boys with "children, children, children" while he slides his very relaxed being (shorts, large t-shirt, and glasses) into the chair next to my buddy tyler, the TR virgin, and brings up baseball (something tyler is very well-versed in) as we are in front of a huge tv that is on a sports channel. questions start to fly as many topics are brought up, various items get signed (including some menus for the wait staff), and we all pinch each other in disbelief as we realize that we are the only people left in the bar and would never wish to be anywhere else at this point in time. i got to show TR the todd sings import he seemed so surprised to see onstage and we talked of the dvd (is that out already?), last year's private bash in kenosha, wi when i got to play mystified with him, and he created many laughs. The rest of the boys brought up the kick the rundgren habit shirt they had dreamed up and we all cracked up hysterically. It suddenly sTRuck me as amazing that todd had stopped in to have some laughs and swap some stories with us dedicated fans, all of whom really came to the show because of todd.
Real hugs were disTRibuted throughout the circle as the staff called bar time and the lights came up (even brighter). TR leaned in as i asked him for a hug and it seemed so genuinely sincere to be uniting with my hero again.
As we left at bar time we spotted the incredible jack bruce at checkout and i got to meet another one of rock's TRue legends...amazing! We politely waved to the band and crew as the bus pulled out of the lot a bit after 2am. Tyler and i then invaded wesley's room for a bit and poured ourselves into a nearby hotel...where a charlie's episode revolved around the utopia lounge.
Some things are just meant to happen
Photos from anna can be found here:
starting with todd and author...thanks anna
catch a show while ya still can.............
You will not regret it