Once the mostly H & O crowd found their seats (counting seat numbers proved difficult for quite a few and narrow seats were uncomfortable for some of the larger “Man Eaters”) during the acoustic numbers (LCM and Cliché), Todd did impressive versions of Hit Me Like a Train (the groove was splendid) and Buffalo Grass (even the H & O crowd was taking notice at this point). Looking At You scored a knockout and Rock Love was delivered with more energy than H & O’s entire set. Our hero was having some difficulty with the high notes early, but I attribute that to his hectic schedule and/or the soundmen, who utterly failed over three hours to carve a midrange sanctuary for Todd’s voice.
The encore, in which Todd and H & O spent nearly an hour together performing their respective hits, brought the house down. It started rather inauspiciously with Todd repeatedly tapping on his vocal mike, which was dead and never successfully revived, but our hero grabbed a spare and made do. We finally heard his voice as it is meant to be heard when Todd moved over to Darryl Hall’s microphone (conspiracy theorists take note) for Can We Still Be Friends. While I was unimpressed by Darryl’s liberties with this cherished song, Todd corrected the nosedive with a powerful second verse and more than credible piano playing. TR tended to return the favor, however, tongue placed firmly in cheek (or was I merely hoping) while singing and motioning to some of H & O’s more sugary lyrics. Yikes! Call a dentist! Incidentally, Hot Fun in the Summer Time will require more rehearsal or a mercy-killing, but this was the only clunker in an otherwise excellent encore.
I have seen our hero perform many times over 20 years, listened to him daily for close to 30 years, and I marvel that he continues to work as hard as he does and seemingly goes all-out most every performance. No one left the August 19 performance in Pittsburgh thinking they hadn’t gotten their money’s worth or that any of the performers had merely gone through the motions. Parenthetically and my profound bias aside, H & O were great. Profound bias included, Todd was better.
I copped Todd’s autograph thanks to H & O’s wonderful manager who arranged an after-show backstage pass. Todd even sang a few bars of Happy Birthday to my wife over my cell phone, calling me “pesky” for being omnipresent, rude and insistent, but summoning enough patience to sign and chat briefly as the true gentleman and good sport he is. My apologies to our ever-popular tortured artist, and my thanks again for putting on one hell of a show.