Saturday night review

Review by Otto Cornejo (Switch to

Todd does what Todd wants. Anyone familiar with Todd and Utopia's musical past can tell you that. It isn't surprising then that his live performances can be equally eclectic. From Pyramids to Acapella, cart machines and Bossa Nova motifs, the faithful have seen it all.

It stands to reason then that the faithful will have different opinions no matter what the theme of any given Todd show. On the eve of Easter the faithful at Chicago's House Of Blues left the show uttering the words of a Heretic.

They didn't like it.


Well, I wouldn't know that. But the people around me didn't like it. Case in point. I met a wonderful Todd fan, Michelle, who had flown in from San Francisco to see the show. She has seen Todd 37 times previous. During the last moments of the show she leaned over to me and said that this show was the worst ever. Number 38 remains at that position for her.

My friend Dave has seen Todd 10 times and he said this was the worst show of the bunch. Ditto, for a women talking on a cell phone as we walked out.

I have seen Todd about 20 times, going back to 1982 and this WASN'T my worst show. I must confess that the No World Order Tour takes that award. In fact as I was driving home, I found my conclusions were a mixed bag.

Here is my take.

The reasons that the show failed for people around me was set list. I think many fans were pumped to hear the material from Liar's live, but I think they were also pining for some up-tempo, sing-along favorites in-between. I wont post the set list, because you can find that elsewhere on this web site, but I don't think it's too far fetched to say that Buffalo Grass or a cover of Lunatic Fringe does not have the same affect as Real Man or One World (yes, I know he wasn't going to play any Utopia songs).

It was clear as the show went on that Todd wanted to take the concept of Liars to it's natural conclusion. There was no 12 string acoustic version of Cliché or Love Of The Common Man, no sitting at the piano fumbling through Song Of The Viking. This was not THAT show.

Instead Todd led his band-of-four into a neo-industrial/electronica landscape replete with heavy bass, edgy riffs and snarling keyboards; Mammon instead of Stood Up, Liar instead of Wondering. Even the soulful numbers had the immediacy of a man on a mission.

The show starts with an empty stage, bright LED screens and Truth firing out of speakers turned to 11. The players enter costumed as one religious figure or another, pick up the pre-recorded prompt and never look back.

The rest of the concert was tailored to the theme of truth and lies, which is why I suspect songs from No World Order were selected, why ISP came up, for better or worse. Even fan favorites like Unloved Children and The Want Of A Nail seemed to tip a hat to motif Todd has taken on the road this time.

Yes, there were technical problems. If you have seen Todd though his many incarnations this isn't an issue, it's part of the show. That said the groove break that the band performs whilst Todd changes into pimp gear, was WAY off.

In conclusion, I find myself begin diplomatic about the whole thing. I really liked the impassioned nature of the show, it's unwillingness to compromise it's theme. And yet, if I had the chance to yank Buffalo Grass for Can't Stop Running, I might have done just that.

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren and the Liars 2004
4/10/2004 - House of Blues Chicago - Chicago, IL

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