We had experienced some very uncharacteristic weather in Florida recently and the night before the show temperatures dropped into the upper thirties. The tickets for this outdoor venue were clearly marked "rain or shine". I asked "What about frost"? Luckily it warmed up a bit (reminded me of an average summer evening in England...brrrr) with a slight mist of cold rain. We got a cocktail and made it up the aisle to our seats, which had been saturated with precipitation. The cocktail napkins we brought back didn't do the job, so I went to the ladies restroom and pilfered about a quarter of a mile of toilet tissue to dry them off. It was on the way out the door that I heard Todd singing "Cliche," so I hurried on back to our seats, dried them off and sat down and began singing along.....and didn't stop until Todd did.(Or shortly after!)
This was not a Todd solo show, and I had some concerns over how the leather clad women and biker boys waiting for Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders would accept his performance. You could physically tell the Pretenders fans from the Toddheads in the crowd. At the ending of "Cliche" I was pleased to hear the crowd give Todd some well deserved enthusiastic cheers and applause.
Then he began "Lysistrata," a tune off Todd's "Swing To the Right," which I had never heard before but had seen listed in several of Todd's music sets on this tour. So I began to listen, only knowing some of the lyrics I had seen printed out on the web. The original is the tale of the Greek mythological character Lysistrata who was withholding sex from her husband in some sort of protest. In Todd's case, his song is about Lysistrata's objection to her man going off to war. A very fitting comment on the current state of world affairs. It was a thought-provoking work, performed quite well. I enjoyed it immensely. Again I was pleased and surprised at the audience's approval of another one of his "non pop" hits.
Todd then began to play one of my all time favorites off "A Wizard A True Star," "I Don't Wanna Tie You Down." He slipped on the first verse, doing a Sinatra-type substitution of the words from the first refrain "so heavy" for the second verse's "I'm sorry." I really did miss the heavy synthesizer "breathing" and brooding which helped set the mood of the recorded version of this short yet sweet compostion, but standing alone there with his acoustic guitar, he performed it beautifully and with much feeling and depth. His voice was in top form on this tune.
Almost everyone likes The Beatles and Todd did a wonderful version of "Hide Your Love", after which he paused for a moment to mention his son, who had been drafted by "our" Florida Marlins and that this coming season Rex would probably be playing for the Jupiter Hammerheads. He asked that all of us "locals" support Rex and the team. The crowd reacted with positive cheers and a few whistles. Of course I thought for sure in looking over some of his prior set lists on this tour that he would "jump the (hammerhead) shark" as they say and get right into playing "Hammer In My Heart." But being Todd means being unpredictable. Instead he broke into "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and though this is not one of his best known songs, the audience knew it, ate it up and digested it well. Exquisitely done. Again, I was impressed that the primarily hard-ass, hard-core Pretenders fans had enthusiastically accepted Todd's rendering of the tune.
Next he hopped over to the piano and did a fun filled and amusing version of "The Viking Song." The influence of singing all those Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas as a kid with his childhood pal was apparent in this song.
"Compassion" was next. Although I enjoyed seeing this song performed live, it may be better if he drops it from the setlist. Those rolling falsetto harmonies combined with a fake fade out on the piano and vocals were an obvious strain on this man, who seems to have just passed puberty! I purposely applauded and yelled loudly as he was fading out with the knowledge he was apparently having difficulty in trying to give it a proper ending. He looked up, chuckled, faded out the song and then said something like (don't quote me here) "Well that's all I can do for now...............well, I have some more goodies still saved up for you."
Todd then eagerly began "Free Male And Twenty-one" a charming tune with an Off-Broadway feel to it, which pleasantly amused both the audience and the performer. You could tell by his gestures and the expressions on his face. Well done, Bravo!
Then I started a joke, which started the whole crowd singing!
I can name the next tune in one note...With Todd's first chord on the piano I cried out "Hello?!?" He replied with a big "Hello" and began to sing the song that every average radio listener who is not a Todd fan identifies him with. I kept singing along...louder than I was aware of and when he got to the "You Knoo-ooow" part he heard me singing the harmonies from my seat. By the end of the tune my "think of me" harmony had convinced him to get the audience into a singalong. I faded out like the background singers on the "Something Anything" album, who went on long after the audience and he had stopped singing...The crowd was enchanted by it and fully enjoyed the experience.
Did I mention this was primarily a Pretenders fan base?
Next Todd strapped on the acoustic again....not "The (snare) Drum".....and delightfully confused the puzzled crowd with his Ukulele, Don Ho version of "Bang The Drum"... and yes, he did sing the word "Drum" and not Ukulele as on his "One Long Year" CD.
"One World" was Todd's final song of the night. This uplifting tune was a good choice....He said "Goodnight... Here come The Pretenders"!
There would be no encore.....
The audience quieted down as the house lights went up. A guy and gal were amorously hugging in the aisle when he turned around to me and said "You're the Hello Lady. You're the one who got everyone singing along with Todd when he heard you and smiled".