Reflections on the debut of Lunatic Fringe - 4.11.03 at Chicago's Vic Theater

Review by jeff'weavil'gauss (Switch to

i was fortunate enough to be at chicago's vic theater on 4.11.03 and caught the world debut of todd's cover of lunatic fringe by red rider

i am quite familiar with todd's craw as i was fortunate enough to catch all 5ive recording sessions for 2nd Wind in san francisco during the summer of '90. todd spoke much between songs as we were witnessing the initial recordings of new songs...and he wanted to give us some background for each number. yes, even the concept of the album was explained along the way, making it another unique way to view a todd work throughout these 'explanantions' todd often mentioned his craw. apparently this is where things like ideas and feelings get 'stuck' unless you release them. the main piece caught in todd's craw at that time was covered very well in jesse, the only song recorded during these sessiona that didn't make the album.

Composer: Todd Rundgren

He found a letter. Someone had slipped it under the door. Said I gotta tell you something, I never told no one before. I know it sounds crazy. I can hardly bring myself to say, But the feeling is oh so strong now, I can't hold out another day. I hope you can take it said that way. When I say, I wanna fuck you, Jesse. I wanna fuck you, Jesse. I wanna fuck you 'cause I got the right To love a man whose stupid, ugly, and white. I wanna say "fuck you," Jesse Helms.

She got a message, Just another beep on the message machine. Said I feel so guilty, I think it's time that I come clean. I thought I knew better. I thought I had chosen the proper words to say. I wanted to be so honest. Tell you a story you've never heard, Now that I finally got the nerve. I wanna fuck you, Tipper. I wanna fuck you, Tipper. 'Cause you showed me that Things are still the same. Everybody's parents turn out lame. I wanna say "fuck you," Tipper Gore

He heard her crying, But he couldn't make out a word she said. She was alone and frightened. She was wishing she was dead. She knew it was hopeless. He was way up there, and she was way down here. Still she called his name out In a voice that was loud and clear. She said I know it sounds so weird, But I wanna fuck you, Johnny. I wanna fuck you, Johnny. I wanna hold you down And fuck you while you squirm And force you to bring that thing to term. I wanna say "fuck you," John Paul II.

Got to say "fuck you" Tipper Gore. Just got to say "fuck you" Jesse Helms.

.................the point is that todd needs these carthartic moments at time, as i am sure most of us do

...i know i do

so amidst today's political climate todd once again had something stuck in his craw that needed some serious release. lunatic fringe goes back to the NYC power TRio show (w/ jesse as guest) on least. he opened up that evening (with a very hoarse voice) screaching the words "lunatic fringe" into the mic right off the bat and then explaining that he'd left his voice in the previous night's city. it's kinda funny and the first mention i know of regarding the red rider classic...perhaps it was even somehow explored prior to this

so...on to friday, april 11 and the worldwide debut of lunatic fringe-a song that "is not one of mine"-TR.

let's keep in mind that this is a number that is fairly heavy on electric guitars, synth and keys, bass and drums, and production...not that that would stop todd from tackling it also, i have no recording of this (yet) and am going from my bizarre memory cells...

the opening chords surprised me and sent me down the wrong track as the timing and placement of the opening chord was very reminiscient of led zeppelin's good times, bad times! so for a moment i was in a state of

shock and awe,

perhaps his actual intentions. so cue that classic zep number (thanks Z-man), picture the guitar as a heavily-pounded acoustic instead of jimmy's electric, and you've got the intro.

heading directly to the first verse, todd's voice hammered out strong and loud over the top of the hauntingly dark chord progression. it was quite awesome. the short bridge that follows this verse had todd doing a double stop bend riff to the root while he nailed a similar line with his voice. on subsequent times that part came along he emphasized the chords instead of the bend and laid off the vocals. the solo section, with an amazing slide solo on the original recording, was economized into a small chordal progression leading into the raw and poignant vocal delivery handled consistently throughout this heartfelt number.

...and why so much emotion and sTRength and devotion in his vocal delivery? well, just check out the lyrics:

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic fringe I know you're out there You're in hiding And you hold your meetings We can hear you coming We know what you're after We're wise to you this time We won't let you kill the laughter

Lunatic fringe In the twilight's last gleaming This is open season But you won't get too far We know you've got to blame someone For your own confusion But we're on guard this time Against your final solution

We can hear you coming We can hear you coming No you're not going to win this time We can hear the footsteps We can hear the footsteps Way out along the walkway Lunatic fringe We know you're out there But in these new dark ages There will still be light

An eye for an eye Well before you go under Can you feel the resistance

certain lines had considerable and timely emphasis, like:
"We know what you're after
We're wise to you this time"

"But we're on guard this time Against your final solution"

"An eye for an eye Well before you go under Can you feel the resistance"

to quote a very recent review from one of the mohegan sun shows: "he made his feelings known through his song selection rather than any Sarandon/Robbins-style press conference commentary."

"Interesting, in these times, to see an artist who lets his work operate in the fashion intended."

so put the social commentaries and attitude into a blender with heavy lyrics and sift through a pounded takamine and you've got todd's version of


thanks and much respect


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4/11/2003 - Vic Theater - Chicago, IL

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