I've been reading some conflicting reviews of Todd's performances over the past few weeks. Surprisingly, there were significantly different impressions depending on the perpective of the reviewer on the same nights, so I will really be interested to see if anyone writes something critical about tonights performance. I don't expect we will. This was my 60th TR show going back to ''73, so I have seen the good...the great...and I also saw the ugly a year ago in Allentown.
First...a tip of the cap to Royston Langdon who put on an amazing warm up performance and received a very enthusiastic response despite the fact that no one had heard any of the songs before. His music defies being compared to anyone in particular, but I heard a little Bowie mixed in with the phrasing of Anthony Newly (anybody remember him?), the old british singer. Royston came out looking like a lost roadie, or perhaps a refugee from farmaid. Was that the worlds most hideous cap he had pulled over his eyes for the first few songs? And after he removed the hat...he displayed one of the worst cases of hat head ever seen...and it actually played into his intense playing. The music was powerful, his playing intense and you can be sure you will be hearing big things from him soon. Too bad this was his last opener for Todd on this tour.
OH came on wearing a Roystn Langdon long sleeve T (on sale in the lobby for $30) because, as he explained, he inadvertantly left all his nice stuff in his D.C. hotel room. The set list tonight wasn't too different from any of the recent shows but Todd knew he owned the room from the moment he walked out. There's nothing like a receptive crowd to get the best from a performer. There were all the usual mistakes and wrong notes, but unlike in the past when he would really get frustrated and pissed off, tonight he laughed and fought through it. He played a blistering "black and white", an extended version of "The Wheel" and during the high kicks at the end of Love in Action he knocked the cord off the guitar and a stool went flying...and the best part for me tonight was a completely flawless "Viking". They gave him an awesome sounding baby grand to use and I've never heard him play the 88's any better (at least in the past 20 years).
In closing...and to all those who expressed their disappointment in their reviews over the past few weeks, I have to say that tonight I finally "got it". I've stopped hoping and expecting to see the perfect performance, I've stopped wishing he'd play "piss aaron" or birthday carol" or "be nice to me"....I decided to come and accept Todd for who he is right now. OK, so he doesn't practice much (read the Billy James book and find out that he never did) and he occassionally gets grumpy and continues to play songs that are no longer within his range....so what! I'm 48 and I've spent my entire adult life seeing Todd perform at least one time every year since 1973. Every performance is like another thread that binds our past to the present. What would we do without him? I for one don't want to find out.