A Tale of Two Cities

Review by Greg Hamby (Switch to

After the tremendous night had in Peekskill, I couldn't wait to take my wife to the Casino 10 minutes from home for the second night of my "TR weekend." I'm just sorry that she couldn't have gone to Peekskill.

Let me say up front that this was not a bad show, it just wasn't up to the quality of the performance the night before. First of all, we knew going into the show that concerts in the Wolf Den are truncated versions of the "regular shows" seen elsewhere. One of Todd's great quips of the evening was when folks booed after he mentioned that they would only have 75 minutes to play, as the Indians didn't want people away from the gaming tables any longer than that. He answered the boos by saying "Take it up at the next (tribal) council meeting." Strike two was the fact that because of the relatively small stage, whey were not able to use the cool stage set with the LED lights.

The other personal gripe for me was yet another glitch in the whole "VIP" deal. As some of you may know, shows at the Wolf Den are free, which means that in order to get in, one must stand in line for an abusively long period of time. My wife and I got there about 2.5 hours before the show. My hope was that once they got the VIP deal together, we might be able to escape the line and get in to sit in the "seats with best sight lines" described at Patronet.

Also, after having such fun at the "meet and greet" the night before, my wife was so looking forward to meeting Todd, both because she is a long time fan, and because she wanted to have the chance to thank him for being so kind to our son the night before in Peekskill.

However.......after 3 or 4 trips to the front of the line to inquire about the VIP list, once folks were being let into the venue, I was told by an usher that "They're not doing that tonight." At the end of the show, Nancy went and spoke with someone, (maybe the road manager) who said that the VIP thing wasn't happening because it was a free show. Problem with that logic is the fact that whether the show was free or not, the passes were not free. AND in essence we had paid 20 bux for each pass in order to support the production costs of the tour, however, the production equipment that the 20 bux went to support wasn't even on stage for this performance.

Small potatoes, but it was still a disappointing part of the experience, which would have been larger potatoes had I not been able to have gone the night before.

Again, be warned, if you have purchased a VIP pass and go to a free show, chances are you will be a "Very Irritated Patron" and not a "Very Important Prevaricator."

The show itself was kind of one of those parodixical "Tale of Two Cities" sorts of shows. It was the best of times in the sense that I'd have to say that trimming the show down to the bare minumum had a positive effect on the flow of set. As much as I truly loved the full show in Peekskill the night before, to me (just my opinion) there was a bit of a lull during the Philly soul portion of the show. The abbreviated set list moved things right along and held the audience's attention throughout. Also, after talking to a few folks after the show, pretty much everyone was pleased with the sound.

It was the worst of times in the sense that the show suffered some of it's punch without the lights and costume changes. Todd's voice had a few problems, (understandably so, having just had a show the night before.) He also had some pretty major geetar problems. I brought along a musician friend who had never heard Todd play electric guitar and I had really built him up for this one. When he reached for Foamy on "Facist Christ" I leaned over and said, "listen to this."

Todd played a few notes, walked over to his computer, changed guitar sounds with the little stylus deal and continued on with what was decidedly not his best effort. In fact, the screw up on "Facist Christ" led to a total melt down for the whole band that he was only able to correct by singing the bands vocal part to get them back together.

He had to stop playing in order to "stylus tap" at least 2 or 3 more times throughout the night, and that was a bummer. All the putzing around with the computer is an obvious and understandable distraction to Todd that takes away from his guitar playing.

But in the interest of a better experience for all concerned, it seems to me that it would make sense for him to allow his tech to take over the "stylus tapping" duties which would allow him to just focus on playing. It wouldn't be that hard to pull off as the set list has very little variation and I'm sure that for the most part his choice of guitar sounds remains consistent for each portion of each tune. But that's just one guy's half baked opinion. Finally, ending the show with "Hello, It's Me," although it fit in well with the cheezy casino vibe, just didn't have the punch of "Just One Victory" as a show closer.

With that said, I am reminded of my friend's response to my belly aching after the show.."What do you want? It was FREE!!!!!!" As I said at the start. Not a bad show at all. Songs like "Liar" "For the Want of a Nail" "God Said" and others still wowed. I guess that the show only suffered in comparison to the brilliance of the performance the night before. Free show, good performance, night out with the wife, good friends, it's all good. (Almost) <g>

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