TR in Omaha, NE, on 7.19.03

Review by Kim Theesen (Switch to

Todd Rundgren with guest Gary Jules
July 19, 2003 - Music Box - Omaha, Nebraska - 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28 Advance, $30 Day of Show

I'm still high after this one. It's been a long time since I had the chance to see TR, and to be a solo show to boot. (We had tix to see AWDAR last year but that one, along with some other dates, was canceled.) Anyway, we got to the venue at about 7:15 and the doors were to open at 7:30. The Music Box (formerly Sharkey's) is a great venue. I have no idea how many people it holds, 600-700, maybe a few more? Its two-level area segregated the nonsmokers from the smokers. The cig smoke doesn't bother me, but it was a good thing that the smokers left the front/lower half of the building relatively smoke free.

The show started about 8:35 or so. Gary Jules played acoustic guitar while the audience acknowledged his performance by politely applauding. I admit that it was a bit difficult to pay close attention, what with the anticipation of OH showing up soon. Jules' show was highlighted by a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." He played for about 30-40 minutes.

After about an eternity (OK, about 45 minutes) around 10 o'clock, Todd came finally came out. He opened with "Lysistrata" and then into "Cliché." His voice was quite rough at first and he really strained to hit the high notes. He made some comments about his voice, about how may hack up something, and then joking about seeing it described on E-bay. TR also said something about his vocal condition and how one solution was to get drunk.

During "Hammer In My Heart" he broke a string. He apologized about how he would have kept on during any other song but he really needed that one for this number. A change of guitars and he picked right up to finish it. The rest of the first part was highlighted, for me anyway, with "Black & White." I liked the way he attempted to make the acoustic guitar sound electric during the solo sections. He talked with the audience a bit about Omaha, then finished this part of the show on the guitar with Red Ryder's "Lunatic Fringe."

By now his voice was getting warmed up and we all had a good buzz going, so on to the piano. He mentioned something about his piano playing being "raucous." (I think that was the word he used, some synonym for rough or rowdy. Hey, I'm buzzing pretty good myself by this time.) Here comes the "Viking" from S/A. The four-song piano set sounded great. I thought "Compassion" was quite moving. He finished with S/A's "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference."

Next, the ukulele, and Hawaiian war chant bit and "Bang On The Drum." I guess as a novelty it's OK, especially for those in attendance who couldn't name more than three or four TR songs. Back to the acoustic and TR then played the Beatles' "Hide Your Love Away" with the enthusiastic audience singing along with the chorus. He chatted for a bit about cowboys and making fun of cowboy boots and their pointy toes during the middle of another Fab Four tune, "I've Just Seen a Face." There was another little ditty mixed in about the prairie but I don't know if he just made it up or if were some sort of cover. The surprise of the night for me was playing "Born to Synthesize." Wow, to hear him do that on the acoustic guitar was cool. He also had fun by working in a little of the theme from the Jetsons.

He talked for a minute while fiddling with what looked like a palmpilot and the bosa nova set started up: "ISTL," "Influenza," "CWSBF," and "I Want You." (Note: I know TR didn't write that last one. But was it ever on an earlier album? Was WAT the only one where it appeared?)

For the last number, he played "One World" on the guitar. It didn't seem to take much to get him back on stage and he finished on the piano with "Hello It's Me," "The Wheel," and the medley featuring "What's Going On." By this time my notes were getting messy and I think that was about it. He lingered on stage to shake hands and sign a few things.

I think he enjoyed himself. I know I did and the crowd who was with me. He seemed relaxed, especially after his vocal cords were loosened up by the gin. (I think it was gin he was drinking on stage.) With the huge catalog of his it was a good sampling. I was exhausted.

I sure wish I could have paid TWICE as much money for about HALF the crowd. For TR, I would have paid even more for a smaller audience. It was obvious who was a big fan and who must have received comp tickets. Why can't people shut up for two hours while the Man's up there on stage singing his heart out. Yak Yak Yak. Please, I'm falling in love with the singer - I wish that some day I can see TR or one of my favorite musicians in a perfect venue like this (sound mix was very good with only about 30 or 40 feet separating us from the stage) and everybody desires to hear everything being performed. Sheeeesh. My dream goes on - and hopefully not forever.

Oh, and one last thing - On the walls through out the venue were signs that said the following: "At the musician's request, all drinks to be served in plastic. Thanks for your patience." What's up with that? Did TR get hit with a glass or bottle at some show? I'm in my mid forties and have seen my share of shows over the years. I had never seen that request at a bar.

Overall, it was a great show. It has to be a personal favorite. I hope TR comes close to your town and you get to experience the same goose bumps and emotional roller coaster that his show gave me.

Thank you, Todd.

The Song List:

On acoustic guitar - Lysistrata / Cliché / Hammer in My Heart / I Don't Want To Tie You Down / Black and White / Beloved Infidel /Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe"

On piano - Song of The Viking / Compassion / Free Male and 21 / It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference

On ukulele - Bang On The Drum

On guitar - Hide Your Love Away (Beatles) / I've Just Seen a Face (Beatles) / Born To Synthesize (w/Jetsons theme song)

Bosa Nova Medley (w/recorded MP3 background) ... I Saw The Light / Influenza / Can We Still Be Friends /I Want You

On guitar - One World

Encore: On piano - Hello It's Me / The Wheel / Marvin Gaye Medley w/"What's Going On"

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7/19/2003 - The Music Box - Omaha, NE

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