Come for the opening act- stay for the encore. Truly, if you, like myself, are a fan of both Todd and Hall and Oates, the evening's finale was a dream come true.
I was grinning from ear to ear by the end of it all as Philly's finest joined forces for the ultimate "Rock 'N Soul" summit meeting. Although it was a Hall & Oates show, I know there were plenty of Rundgren fans there as well judging from the audience response to his set. Merriweather Post Pavilion is a fairly large(2,000 seats, I guess) outdoor venue, and I'm sure the place was at least half full. It was a nice warm (not too sultry) August evening, and the atmosphere was bouyant. I had snagged seats in the fifth row center, the day tickets went on sale- oh yeah.
Todd came out at 8 sharp dressed in some stretchy loose-fitting black pants and top, with an open white shirt on top- not too bad. He's by himself, so I'm thinking, "Solo Todd set- cool", 'cause that's sort of what I was expecting/ hoping for. Anyway, after solo versions of LOTCM and Cliche (2 Faithful songs? What the-) with just Todd and his trusty electric acoustic guitar, out comes the band: bass, drums, and keyboards.He joked in between songs about how he and Hall & Oates would be taking over the government from "W" for the next 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours (the venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion, is in close proximity to Washington, DC, you see) So now it's time to make the record company happy, I guess, with 2 songs from his latest CD, One Long Year: Hit Me Like A Train and Buffalo Grass. In between, they played the obscure I'm Looking At You, But I'm Talking To Myself (where in the hell is that song from?), which isn't such a bad little song. They played fairly tight- little did I realize at the time that this was also Hall & Oates backup band, and this was only their third show backing Todd. After the guitar pyrotechnics of Buffalo Grass, it was time to cool things out as Todd put down his guitar to sing a terriffic version of Parallel Lines (a favorite of mine- yeah!). Now Todd informed the crowd that the band was going to play "what was expected of them", and that in turn he and the band would expect more from the crowd (sing-along time!). This launched what you could call the 'hits' portion of the show, which only consisted of two songs. First up was Hello It's Me where Todd's band was further augmented by Hall & Oates' excellent sax man Charlie Dechant (sp)- it sounded like there were a couple of goofs here, but who cares?- it's Hello It's Me, right? Also joining in was a second guitarist. Everybody hung for the rest of the set. After Hello, they did another crowd pleaser, Love Is The Answer- probably the first time for a lot of Hall & Oates fans that they ever heard the song performed by it's composer. As the closer, the right Rev. Todd dusted off the Utopia cut Rock Love that mad for an explosive finish to his abbreviated portion of the show.
But wait- what's this? As Todd is walking off the stage( no encore)- he calls back to the mostly standing audience that he'll "see us in a few minutes" with Hall & Oates. Well, the few minutes was actually about an hour and a half. After an intermission, and Hall & Oates (no Todd) doing an hour or so of what ammounted to a 'Greatest Hits' show, they left the darkened stage, as the cheering house awaited the inevitable encore. That's when lightning struck! Todd saunters onto the stage, now wearing this very fey black chantilly lace top (with see-thru sleeves) looking like Mr. Rock Star. Todd is an equal partner with Hall & Oates as they return for the encore- I did not expect that at all. The electric piano has been moved up front and center, where Daryl Hall takes his place, flanked by John Oates to his left and Todd to his right. Yes!! I hear Daryl begin to play the opening chords of their great song 'Wait For Me', but when the singing begins, it's not Daryl's familiar lead vocal, it's- Todd!! Holy shite- I couldn't have picked a better Hall & Oates song for Todd to lend his voice to- it was that perfect. Anyhoo, Daryl takes a short turn on lead, and back to Todd- it was Todd's song totally as he chewed up the song's guitar solo and spit it out. Now, as the astonished Todd fans are getting over the first surprise, Todd and Daryl trade places, with Todd now center stage at the keyboard. Can We Still Be Friends starts up with Daryl Hall handling the lead vocals- yes, that's definitely Daryl singing- and he sounds almost just like Todd. Again, Todd and Daryl take turns on lead, but this time Daryl dominates. After that, Todd went back to stage right to start up the very popular Hall & Oates song Rich Girl. ( It occurred to me that many people who paid $50 to see Hall & Oates, only to hear some of their favorites sung by this funky blonde-and-black-haired dude must be very distressed by now, but that's their problem. As for me- I'm approaching rock concert nirvana!) OK- So I didn't start the evening expecting to hear Todd singing Rich Girl, but I was witnessing an incredible show unfolding before my very eyes, and I was loving every minute of it. Now it's Todd's turn for a song as the standing crowd cheered in recognition at the opening of I Saw The Light. But of course, it wasn' t Todd who began singing, but Daryl in another Todd-sounding performance (he even interjected the 'ha-ha' at the right time in homage to Todd) trading leads here and there with Todd and of course, Todd steps to the fore for the song's fantastic guitar solo. The almost forgotten Hall & Oates pop ditty Kiss On My List rounded out the encore with Todd and Daryl once again sharing lead vocal time, and Todd and Hall & Oates' guitarist cranking out some sweet dual-lead guitar sounds (and my wife snatched up Todd's souvenier guitar pick from the performance for me). Gosh! After that song, it was time to say good night again, and the stage was emptied as everyone in the crowd screamed for more. Everyone came back to perform, appropriately enough, a nice cover version of Sly & the Family Stone's classic Hot Fun In The Summertime, with Todd, Daryl, and John Oates all getting a chance to sing lead. It was a great closer, although a bit anti-climactic after what had just transpired in the previous encore.
To sum it up, if you're a Todd fan, and this show is playing near your town, I think you'll get your money's worth if you check out this show. Even if Todd is just the opening act, he gets his props in the encore with plenty of stage time. And if you happen to be a fan of Hall and Oates too, then this show is a fantasy fulfilled. Ah yes- rock dreams can come true, Sweet.