Let me make this perfectly clear. IT WAS LOUD! This was not a band box, It was a shoe box. The Cat's Cradle near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill allegedly holds 600 patrons. On this hot and steamy southern spring night the venue was pleasantly packed with just enough rabid fans to make considerable noise. Near the end of the show it was really loud and the band wasn't even playing. Imagine what it sounded like with one of the most powerful rock and roll drummers (Prairie Prince), a legendary bassist (Kasim Sulton), a guitar virtuoso (Jesse Gress), an accomplished keyboardist (John Ferenzik) and Todd Rundgren screaming at the top of his lungs until the veins in his head about popped. When they played the song Liars, the back wall of the joint just blew out. I think it landed somewhere near the coast about two hours later.
This band was in nearly perfect form for this show. Sure there were some minor glitches and sometimes the mix wasn't perfect, it got a little muddy at times, but it is hard to play such a variety of locations and have it fit like a glove every time. They had about 10,000 pounds of soul in a 10 pound box.
It is all about the music and appreciating the experience and the message. The lighting was better than advertised. It really sets the stage for your auditory adventure. The costumes are fantastic and the song list is well crafted. "Truth" gets your blood pumping, "Buffalo Grass" let Todd crank up his guitar and then the religious portion of the program rears its non proselytizing head with the acerbic "Mammon" followed by "Fascist Christ". I have seen opinions from some that seem to claim that this school of philosophy is too dominant and that it makes some people uncomfortable. Memo to some people. That is what makes Todd-Todd. He is willing and able to confront very difficult issues, upfront through musical expression. Take that away and you have no passion, no soul, no direction and no focus. You have Barry Manilow with a squid on his head. Go watch American Idol.
After paying their penance the bad rips off some great tunes. Todd wears out "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" then the first set closes with "God Said" and an unbelievably strong version of "Liar." Todd belts this tune out with such tremendous force and effort. I am surprised beyond belief that he has any vocal chords left at all after this exercise. He stretches the word liar out for a full ten seconds. That is hard to do, try it.
At this point Colyn's dad pointed to his son who was bobbing his head to the beat and staring intently with rapt attention. It is encouraging to me that a youngster of his age could have the comprehension skills to appreciate this song and believe me he did.
In typical Todd style he juxtaposed the bombastic cutting "Liars" with an intimate solo version of "Beloved Infidel" and Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe." The band came out fully attired in new Pimp wear and flexed their muscles to "Green Onions" during Todd's costume change.
Rundgren reappeared to the strains of "Soul Brother" "Sweet" and "Past." Todd's music is always at its best when he has a laser focus on an issue and this last offering has allowed him to produce a set of songs that completely personify his current state of being. "Past" is not the most complex song on Liars nor is it perhaps the very best, but it reaches people in an unassuming manner. The audience was receptive and let him know. I turned to the girl next to me and said, "I don't care who you are-that's good right there."
The band played "Born to Synthesize" with TR in a Frank Sinatra vocal which fused into a jazzy scat laden jam session. It was laced with the theme song from the "Jetsons" and broke down into a virtual comedy skit complete with Todd making sounds hereto unheard on stage.
The show closed out with "Feel It" "Want of a Mail" and the obligatory "Hello it's Me." The last song "Just One Victory" is always worth the drive. The crowd was very vocal and expressive in their adoration. Arms were waving and people were hooting and hollerin' in true southern fashion.
If you are a Todd fan, think you might be a Todd fan or just want to be loudly entertained, this show is a must. Todd is back, full force by Godd!
Thanks to Mike and Debbie, Ron and Linda, Matt and all the others who helped make this an enjoyable evening. Todd fans are by and large such great people.
Colyn-please keep the torch burning for all us old folks. I expect to roll up in my wheel chair when I am 94 (only 50 years away) to watch you perform a Todd Rundgren tribute show in Las Vegas.