It Ain't Easy Being Gruene

Review by Chris Landes (Switch to

I'm a Todd fan for years and forever, for the same reason that you are. A guy who writes songs that touch the soul -- the most vulnerable love songs ever written -- and also whips out rockers, prog, funk and cool instrumentals. The sense of humor. The left-wing leanings that somehow seem to have an odd conservative touch. The individualist philosophy. The positive attitude. The two-tone hair. So, of course, I had to catch Todd at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX - less than an hour's drive from my hometown of Austin. I had to go, even though I caught Todd a year ago right here in Austin opening for Jethro Tull and he sucked. (Yes, you read correctly. He sucked.)

But you understand the addiction. So I went. And, although I was pleased with the Gruene Hall show overall, the non-Todd-heads I brought with me certainly didn't get it. I don't blame them. They're not used to going to shows in which there's a mistake in every song and the singer's voice cracks when going for the high notes. Sure, they respect that this guy's a veteran and that he was an untouchable wizard in his heyday. But, let's face it - Todd's forte is creation, not re-creation. I think he'd much rather be in the studio working on new material than re-hashing old material on tour. He's always been a "look-ahead" kinda guy. Do something once and move on.

So the flubs get to me. I used to find them endearing. Now I find them annoying. I can understand one or two per show, but come on. I saw Neil Young play a one-man show in Austin several years back on his "Silver and Gold" tour and he proved that some veteran artists actually can play FLAWLESSLY live in a one-person acoustic setting.

Since you've now labeled me a blasphemous infidel for insulting Godd, let me quickly move to the show highlights:

1) Black and White: Thanks to audience participation in GREAT backing vocals and handclap rhythms, Todd seemed to get into this number and did a great job! It actually rocked for an acoustic version.
2) Tiny Demons: Acoustic guitar and great vocals. Neil Young couldn't have done better.
3) Bang The Drum All Day: On uke, of course. Ya gotta love it. And no flubs.
4) CWSBF: Fun and endearing played straight up (without a twist) on piano without major flubs, and great audience backing with the La-la-las.
5) The nice people we chatted with in line and who sat near us. (Gracias to Carlos from Monterrey and his friend who kept buying us cervezas!)


1) Free, Male and 21: Weak, Boring and 2 Long
2) Compassion: One of my favorite Todd songs, but I wish he would stop trying to scream the "Get down on your knees" part at the end. Sounds like he's choking. And yes there were song-stopping flubs.
3) The jabbering bitches near the front of the stage who wouldn't shut up, even when Todd yelled at 'em. They eventually went up and danced on stage and got thrown off.
4) The "self-appointed ticket line police" - lovely couple who chided me for cutting to the front of the line when I had actually already been inside and had my hand-stamp to prove it. (Don't judge if ya don't have the facts!)

To sum up, I had a great time with my friends, a couple of whom I had kept waiting in line a long time wondering if I'd ever show up. Todd sounded better than last year when I saw him, and I dig the T-shirts and "Have Gun Will Travel" thang. And I love the guy and always will for the joy and inspiration he's brought me. But I'd rather spend my next $25 on a CD of new Todd material, not a flub show.

Other reviews for Miscellaneous Dates 2003
3/28/2003 - Gruene Hall - New Braunfels, TX

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