review of Carrboro NC show 5/11/04

Review by G.T. Tyson (Switch to

This was my third TR show in my concertgoing career, and I have to say the Cat's Cradle show tonight was the best of the bunch. A tight stage show, seasoned pro musicians who knew their stuff, and an intimate club setting all combined to create a shining example of what live rock & roll is all about. And it's about damn time.

The Liars did an extensive selection of tunes from their current album, but some older TR solo stuff was added into the mix as well. My personal favorite moment was when he transformed "Born To Synthesize", originally recorded on the Initiation LP, into a Mancini-esque cool jazz number by utilizing the melody from "Killer Joe" and scat-singing the lyrics over it. I was impressed by how well the song lent itself to such a transformation. They also did "For The Want Of A Nail" from Nearly Human and a decent selection of his other classics.

I was quite surprised when Todd announced "we have a special guest guitar this evening" and brought out the multicolored Gibson electric guitar formerly owned by George Harrison and Eric Clapton. They launched into a cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that gave me goosebumps. I don't know if it was the same axe Harrison used in the studio to record the original song, but with Todd up there playing it, the song had an unmistakeable sonic presence that really put it over the top.

Todd Rundgren has to be the hardest-working guy in showbiz. Whether he's performing in a stadium or a small club like the Cat's Cradle, he gives 100% and then some. But the other guys were no slouches either. Kasim Sultan has been Todd's bass player since the halcyon days of Utopia. Prairie Prince, the drummer, was rock steady and kept everything together without overplaying. I've been enjoying his stuff since the days of The Tubes. Jesse Gress and John Ferenzik, on guitar and keyboards respectively, rounded out the band and created a thick wall of sound, the likes of which we haven't heard since Todd's Utopia in their heyday. The third encore was "Hello It's Me", TR's signature anthem. The audience sang along en masse with the song and I got another round of goosebumps. It was almost like being in church. The lights and sound system were excellent.

All things considered, it was the most enjoyable live rock show I've attended in quite a while. When Todd Rundgren & The Liars come to your town, G.T. says check 'em out.

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5/11/2004 - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC

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