Right away you would begin your knowing smirk that a punch-line is coming, right? Being my 18th Rundgren/Utopia show, I knew what to expect…….set lists, MP3 player, Todd rantings, Todd flubs, clever comebacks……
Last nights show at The Rams' Head Tavern had all of that, but came with a semi-surprise package, a surprise package, and a free toy from the cereal box! The semi-surprise was Royston Langston. An eight song performance whose delivery reminded me of that "suspension of disbelief" mentioned when an artist is so into their performance that you get wrapped up in it, forgetting all else around. Announcing that this was the last of his solo openers at the end, I think he laid it all out there for us! Thank You So Much! He had all of us in the palm of his hand, and that Queen tune on the piano was awesome!
The free toy was courtesy of Deb Christian, who decorated this back-room, 200 seating capacity, bizzarrely elongated "listening room", with glowing red hearts, purple glowing wrist bands, glowing ice in her glowing glass! It was an added treat for everyone from someone I had met during the Hall & Oates show at Merriweather last August! Todd mentioned liking the décor and sampled the plastic-water tasting martini glass....
And the surprise?……Todd was obviously relaxed and up for his own antics and minor run ins with his limitations and equipment, as happens from time to time. If you came to see the usual "Love Of The Common Man" & "Cliché", you got that, but you got a whole lot more! Sorry if this sounds like Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiners' character in This Is Spinal Tap), but those openers were cliché'! I was reminded of seeing Bob Dylan, when I thought Dylan was doing an impression of HIMSELF, such stereotypical mublings…. I dare any person who didn't previously know the lyrics to those songs to repeat more that the titles. Todd sang like Ozzy Ozbourn talks!!!
Broke his g-string (just like Royston on his last song- don't you just hate it when that happens?) and took the openers' guitar for Lysistrata after lengthy warming up the crowd to his day (left neatly ironed performance outfit in hotel, same w/ guitar picks) political banter (what the F**K is a code yellow? Don't travel to Bali?-best banter I've ever heard out of him last night in 22 years of shows!) This was followed by a sweet "I Don't Want To Tie You Down", an over-played "Hammer In My Heart" (no PT mention), and after a tough version of Tiny Demons" I was wondering if Todds' moving to piano would kill the (fighting to stay warm & fuzzy) aura.
Then Todd hit "The Viking Song" without a hitch! He obviously felt in control again and sans/ the 2 second stoppage of "IWHMAD" the piano set went very smoothly for a change. I'm still embarrassed to bring someone to a show and hear "Free, Male & 21", but it is an easy song for him to pull off and obviously he makes the most out of it w/ the eye trolling glares (looking for the Secret Service). "Compassion" then "Hello It's Me" –as "we really don't deserve to be treated to (this dilapadated version) but it was charming, I tell ya! And I surely would tell you otherwise (see previous reviews)!
"Bang The Uke","You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" led us to a point where song requests (unrequested and a bit overpowering/annoying) gave us "Black & White". I wasted my energy beckoning for "Love In Action" twice. A great line was " I could, in some witty way, reply back and embarrass you in front of everybody …pause…or I could just play the song" He then proceeded to rock the house!
Next was the With A Twist Set, which my fiance' is very familiar with. He started up the "band" and I pulled my girls chair right next to mine and got cozy. Sitting directly at the front table; it truly was awesome having Todd croon to us like he was right in our livingroom! First Kasims' kindness with "The One Sure Thing" in New York and now this run of special luck! Smiling, kidding, teasing and totally nailing this portion of the set w/ fruit shakers handy, Todd was as entertaining as I've ever seen him before, ending w/ a soulful rendition of"The Wheel".
Encore shocked me: "Love In Action", which got the bar stool kicked over in enthusiasm! "One World" and the second encore left us with "A Dream Goes On Forever". We split from this quaint Annapolis town and I listened to impressions left upon "The Todd Virgin". Shocked at the funness of the performance, Claudia will surely accompany me to see OH when he returns to these parts!
p.s. I wish the best to that woman "who should record that laugh and match it up w/ one of those rubber trout that hang on the wall"!!!