Last night at the Mohegan Sun I felt that same magic again. There are nay-sayers who say Todd no longer "gives it his all" - they haven't seen Todd on this tour! Yes, there were flubs - on guitar and piano ("so many notes, so little time" Todd quipped after Hello Its Me). Yes, his voice was rough ("I don't usually do 5 shows in a row", Todd said at one point). But the passion and raw emotion he poured out in song after song made all that immaterial. When he did Compassion and extended the end with his trademark "woo-hoo" scat singing, my eyes were misting up and I felt 20 years younger.
While waiting for the show to start I noticed a second microphone at the front of the stage and a second set of floor monitors and commented on them to the folks at my table. Turns out the mic was for the ukelele. The montitors, though, were set up for none other than guest guitarist Jesse Gress. Jesse ripped into bossa nova versions of Never Never Land and Lucky Guy, followed by Born To Synthesize. During BtS, Todd picked up his guitar and played the rhythm chord pattern while Jesse picked a lead part, then they both did the "falling asleep" schtick. There were four more bossanova tunes, with Jesse and the MP3 player, finishing with an emotionally-filled I Want You.
Todd strapped on the black Takemine one more time and led the room in a sing-along (and clap along) version of One World before saying good night. He came back for one more song at the piano, A Dream Goes On Forever, before signing a few autographs and shaking a few hands and disappearing backstage.
Due to the casino's time requirements it was a shortened show, and I would have wished for songs like There Goes My Inspiration and The Wheel instead of Hammer in My Heart and Lunatic Fringe - these songs might have been better with an electric guitar than the fuzz-boxed acoustic guitar. I certainly could have wished for more than one encore, too, after hearing of double 2-song encores at previous shows.
Overall Todd looked and sounded great - I hope he tours again soon to support the forth-coming CD release - and plays somewhere/anywhere else in New England!
Free? Sounds good, right? Except it means that it is first-come for seats. For this Todd show some people had lined up for 4 hours before being let in. The waiting line snakes through an aisle of the casino with blackjack tables and slot machines on either side. While standing there, no waitresses come to serve you and the smell of cigarette smoke is pervasive. The ever-present din of the slot machines sinks through your skin and seems to resonate in your bones after a while. Once finally let into the Wolfs Den you find a circular room with 1/3 of the outer wall being a fake rock cliff and the semi-circular stage in front of it. 2 levels of tables and chairs fan out from the stage and 2/3 of the seats on the lower level, closest to the stage, are reserved for "high rollers" or club "members". Once the non-reserved seats are taken, additional show viewers must watch from the wall openings in the back wall of the room. No food or snacks are served in the room.
During soft song parts, the sound of the slot machines, and clink of coins can be heard easily. Clouds of cigarette smoke can be seen overhead, blowing around from the air system.
The idea of these "free" shows is to get more people into the casino to gamble, of course. I think most Todd fans would rather pay for a ticket than be subjected to this type of location!