As I have groused (some say unfairly) in the past, even though I live a scant 10 minutes away, I really don't like going to shows in the Wolf Den. Even though it is free, I would still rather pay twenty bucks rather than stand in a line for two hours to get a seat in the back of the room. Add to that the endless drone of the slot machines that pounds away without mercy throughout the show, (in fact Todd started, and just as quickly stopped, a song tonight called "Slot Machine" inspired by said noize.) Anyway, I'm rambling, let's just say that there are places I'd rather see a show.
THEN I've read numerous accounts of Todd "Melting down" especially during the piano bits of this tour. (Which I agree with those who say that this smacks to some degree of unprofessionalism.) Again, I'll cut to the chase. I am a fan, and have loved Todd's music for years, but after adding up all the variables, I just wasn't all that psyched about this show. But at the end of the day, it turns out that "wasn't" is the operative word here.
Got in line at about five thirty with some friends, and much to my surprise, who should come walking my way than Jesse Gress. My buddies and I just saw him a few weeks ago in New Haven with Tony Levin's band, and let me tell ya, if you get the chance, see them, they ROCK. But anyway, after hailing him and receiving a handshake and a "who the heck are you?" look, he went on into the club, and I knew that this night would be special.
It was much the same as so many of you have reported. Same song list, same strong voice. Same suit and shoes for those of you who live for what he's wearing...
BUT, even though he had to say "come on lefty" to encourage his left hand to keep up on some of the piano stuff, there was not one flub all night. He was on.
Then when it came time for the "With a Twist" stuff, out came Jesse with his nylon string acoustic guitar. How great it was to hear the two of them burn through "Never Never Land" "Lucky Guy" and an absolutely side splitting and terrific two man version of the "MP3 style" "Born to Synthesize." Same Jetsons and snoring bits, but nonetheless, you could tell that they were having a lot of fun, and there was no doubt that Todd relaxed and his voice opened up when the whole load was not on his shoulders. He even picked up his guitar mid song and let Jesse solo a bit. Finished the "twisted" stuff with MP3 and Jesse together which continued the fun.
Jesse waved his guitar to the crowd and was history. Todd cranked his way through "One World" and the rest as you have again read about and heard before.
I would still rather see Todd with a band, but I gotta say, this show was nothing short of great. VERY glad I went.
Don't know about Friday, but Todd came out just after 8 and that was the show. No Royston.
Oh yeah, Happy Easter, and as we were all reminded last night, love really is the answer.