The Canal Club is not a very aesthetic place from the outside. It's down by the James River, but a new floodwall just 50 feet away cuts off any possible view. Every other direction looks like industrial decay. This part of town was once known as Tobacco Row. It's an area about 15 blocks long and 3 blocks wide, full of empty buildings mainly used in the manufacture and warehousing of cigarettes. Some of the buildings have been converted into luxury apartments, restaurants and shops, and the area is gradually being reborn, hence the presence of The Canal Club. But the area in the immediate vicinity of the club is awfully drab. It's underneath two criss-crossing train tressles (heavily used by coal trains), all of which is under the I-95 James River bridge. Not the kind of impression of my home town I would choose to give Todd.
Given the location and the Sunday night time slot, I expected a small turnout. My expectations were correct, BUT the people who did come were Todd fans, waiting for the doors to open at 7:00 PM. I would estimate the crowd at well under 200. When Todd walked out on stage, he said, "Well, I see you all got the secret memo to be here tonight ... Well, the people who are here are the people who are supposed to be here." The audience was both respectful and appreciative, and Todd was in good form.
The Richmond show featured the same playlist as mentioned in reviews of earlier shows. The only technical glitch came in the middle of One World when the guitar amplification system suddenly became muffled and muddy. The audience kept up the "One World, whoa-oh-oh-oh, One World" and clapping and, after a moment's hesitation and shoulder shrug to the sound man, Todd just kept on strumming and finished the song. Lunatic Fringe caught me by surprise and was well done, as was Black and White, Todd making his acoustic guitar sound like a whole band. But my favorite of the evening was on the other end of the pendulum: Beloved Infidel. Todd created such a mood with his acoustic rendition that it was like hearing it for the first time. My choice of a song to drop would be Compassion. I love the song, but the arrangement is so challenging that even though Todd sings it well, it leaves me feeling like I just finished a workout. Maybe a softer, bossa nova treatment would work better.
Last winter I saw the same basic set at the Birchmere near D.C., but the atmosphere was anything but cozy. I hung around after that show in windy, 20 degree weather for a lo-ong time and never saw Todd, only to read later that some people did see him (apparently at the other end of the building). I decided then that meeting Todd after the show is more about me than him, and that I've collected enough handshakes, photos and autographs. So I didn't hang around after the Richmond show. But Todd, if you read this, thanks for coming to Richmond and thanks for another wonderful memory. Just remember that you've got friends here.