Review by Bruce Hicks (Switch to

Since the mid 70's, I've only missed one Todd and/or Utopia show in Cleveland. I feel that Nearly Human was his crowning achievement and that his shows run from some of the best any artist could possibly do (last year's solo shows, the pyramid tour, Back to the Bars) to the worst any artist could do (Taste of Cleveland show where he played with a food blender for most of the show for some unknown reason... or when he forgot a slew of words to his own songs at the Odeon and tried to keep his computer working, playing with it more than relating to the audience).

Liars is a return to form, though there have certainly been a number of memorable tunes in between TRi and Liars I must admit. I love Todd for his soulful voice and his mind bending guitar riffs as well as for his unpredictability and his overall genius. Few that I know, other than Prince and a very small handful of others, can pull off what Todd does in the studio and in a live setting. He has always had my full appreciation when he puts forth the effort. I see nearly 40 shows a year and few artists have kept me coming back tour after tour as Todd has. If for no other reason, than the curiousity within me to see what he's up to on the current tour and the knowledge that he'll almost always do something that's more than worth the price of admission during the set.

Tonight's show was a mixed bag. From a fairly hard rocking first 1/2 set that lasted all the way up to Soul Brother to a warm and genuine rendition of Just One Victory followed by World Wide Epiphamy (sp?) at the end, with at least two Nearly Human tracks in between, we witnessed Todd's many moods and writing skills. From a very poor sound mix and loose band to a tight mix and tight band, we saw it all tonight as the night played out. Sadly, no acoustic guitar was played but I guess it may not have been a good blend with the set overall. Some blistering electric guitar made up for it nicely. Also lacking was any real rapport with the audience, though he briefly acknowledged Cleveland as a place "where it all started" for him. When Todd doesn't talk much, it's kind of like Springsteen just playing song after. Their personalities are part of what makes up their best live sets so it's nice to hear what they have to say (most of the time).

Talking about what he should have or could have played is pointless to me. He can do what he wants, as long as he does it well. I may hate "I Hate My Frickin' ISP" but if he digs it and at least 1/2 the audience does, go for it. The set list was very similar to what I've read elsewhere. Very few mishaps after Soul Brother (that I noticed anyway). I didn't like the boxes the band members were basically forced to play in and I could have forgone the costumes in favor of more rapport and ease with the audience. The boxes kept the band further isolated from the crowd than what would normally have transpired with at least Kaz and Jess. The lighting was impressive (and at times dizzying.... watch out for the red/blue lights... no, the set isn't moving!) and it's even more impressive that Todd designed it. Always ahead of the curve... the techie that he is.

Rock on Todd... we'll see you next time.

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren and the Liars 2004
4/16/2004 - Ohio Theater - Cleveland, OH

Other reviews for overall Todd Rundgren and the Liars 2004

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