I've seen a few of the infamous mistake-filled solo outings and I swore I'd never subject myself to that again. I mean, it's really embarrassing to see someone you admire get on stage and fumble around like a drunken Karaoke patron. But when I heard that Todd was appearing at The Ark in Ann Arbor, I threw caution to the wind and bought tickets for my wife, our 16-year old daughter and me.
The Ark is a well-known small venue that tends to book folksy, singer-songwriter acts. It's a small place that seats around 300 people or so and has a very intimate, living room vibe to it.
Gary Jules opened the show and he was pleasant enough. His material and demeanor was fairly low-keyed and I suspect I would have liked his set a little more if I were more familiar with his songs. He was well received by the audience and, other than a couple of boorish motor-mouth broads seated near me, I enjoyed Gary's set just fine.
A quick change over and Todd came strolling out on stage. I won't detail the set list since, with the exception of adding a great version of "Kindness", it seemed to be pretty much what he's been playing at all the stops.
Todd was in a great mood, very chatty and very funny. I've seen Todd when he hasn't been so jovial and those shows were murder, believe me!
The voice was fine . . . a few strained notes but his songs are pretty demanding. No broken guitar strings and there were only a couple of minor flubs and a complete meltdown in Hello, It's Me. I just consider that part of the arrangement. The problem seems to be the modulation at the end of the song. Even though I'm not a fan of the MP3 part of the show, it's seems to me he could move HIT to that part of the show and avoid the finger fumbling.
Otherwise, his 'rollicking' keyboard manipulations were pretty damn good for the rest of the evening. Kindness was a nice surprise and well performed.
So, while I was waiting for Todd to come on stage I was sitting in my seat wondering what kind of embarrassments I was going to have to endure. Was this guy going to come out and deliver another half-assed performance? Then, about three or four songs into the set, it finally occurred to me that we were in the presence of a true musical icon. For sure, Todd's star may have dimmed over the years but you would be hard pressed to find a songwriter of any age who hasn't been influenced by Todd. He is a true one-of-a-kind talent.
I decided that it was time for me to shut my yap and appreciate whatever form of Rundgren I could get. The old blather about "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" certainly applies and I'd sure feel stupid if I had to look back someday and recall all the times I could have seen Todd but didn't.
By the way, this was show number three for my daughter (The Pod tour, the trio tour and the Ark show) and while I wouldn't call her a raving Todd fan, she is fascinated by his performances and humor and is clever enough to recognize that she is getting an opportunity to see a legendary musician, flaws and all.