Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC

Review by Patty Van Norman (Switch to

This was my first Todd show since 1998, and while this show didn't quite surpass the intensity of that experience (see my review at, it certainly did come close.

I arrived at the Cat's Cradle around 7:30 and there were maybe 50-75 people there, filling all the limited seating areas at the back and on the sides, with 20 or so of the faithful standing up by the stage. By the time the show started (right around the advertised 8:30 time) it seemed pretty packed to me from my vantage point about 10 feet from the stage. Usually I feel kind of old when I go to a show at the Cradle, but last night I felt positively spring-chickenish. There were, however, a fair number of teenagers, 20- and 30-somethings in attendance, and as it turned out my concern that the crowd was expecting an oldies show was largely unfounded. A couple standing in front of me, probably nearer to 60 than 50, were talking before the show about whether they would hear Bang the Drum and whether their proximity to the stage would put them in the "nosh pit." (I kid you not! What do you do in the nosh pit--eat, I guess?) The gentleman spent most of the first half of the show slowly shaking his head (not in a good way, more in an "I can't believe I spent $25 for this" way) and they never applauded; right around the costume change they left. I'm happy to say they seemed to be the exception in this audience. From the rest, I never heard one bonehead request yelled out, nor anything other than sentiments like "We love you Todd!"

The set list was largely as has been reported previously (but no Unloved Children, Love Science, or Worldwide Epiphany), starting with the grand entrance of Truth. There were a number of technical difficulties, mostly involving Kasim, though he seemed to be a good sport about everything and his playing certainly wasn't affected. Twice his keyboard came down when it shouldn't have, taking his mic stand down with it; the second time, Jesse rescued him and his equipment and pointed out to Kasim that he hadn't tightened the knob that keeps it from falling back down. On two other occasions Kasim's bass was not producing sound, but the situation was quickly corrected.

I Hate My Frickin' ISP was moved up to the third slot because the click track to Mammon wasn't working, and so Mammon and Fascist Christ were pushed back. Though this did change the trajectory of the show, I was still struck by how well-crafted the set list is. In fact when thinking about it later I likened this show to "doing church": We started out acknowledging our search for the truth; we spent some time revealing institutions and doctrines that have purported to show us the truth; and then we transitioned into the love and joy that come to the true seeker of truth, building and building to the final release of Just One Victory. Amen, Brother Todd!

For "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Todd announced a "special guest guitar"--the rainbow Gibson SG Fool guitar. Cool! And the song was a great tribute, beautifully done.

The new material is fantastic live and well-placed throughout the show, and the older songs generally mix well with the new stuff. And the band is great, and tight. I can't get enough of watching Prairie Prince play. I dug the swinging Born to Synthesize and the crowd did too; as during the tiki tour, I was amazed by the number of licks and homages TR and company stuffed into it. I'm hunting for an MP3 of the jazz standard "Killer Joe" as my brother reported that this is the background over which BTS is sung. The doo-woppy Hello It's Me was upbeat and celebratory, and gave us a chance to give the love back to Todd up there on stage. At times Todd's smile was so big and joyous he looked like the young Todd of 30 years ago.

One of the front-row faithful began to sing We've been waaaaaiting so long after Hello It's Me, and Todd responded, "So much for suspense" (or something like that). Just One Victory was a joyous end to a blissful evening, and when I saw the ecstasy on the face and in the outstretched arms of a man to the right of the stage, I began to cry.

I heard nothing but positive comments from people as they left the club: the words "amazing," "awesome," and "beautiful" were repeated by many, and the "Todd virgin" who was with my group said it was the best live show she's ever seen. I met up with my friend Doug, who had brought with him a 45 sleeve from the Nazz's Hello It's Me that he hoped to get signed. At around 11:00 he decided to give up waiting and go home, but more conversation followed and suddenly Todd appeared at the dressing room door (and the half-dozen VIP-pass holders slowly trickled out). An orderly line of 30 or so people quickly formed and Todd graciously signed every LP, CD and shirt, patiently shook every hand, and accepted every gift offered to him with kindness. I didn't have anything with me for him to sign and didn't feel the need to connect personally with Todd, but was content to stand next to Frank Heath, the club owner, and watch with him as Todd made his fans happy. Many people also shook Frank's hand as they left, with comments like "Another great show, man" and "Thanks for bringing Todd here." I echo both these sentiments, and I went home at 11:30 fulfilled and emotionally drained after this killer show from Todd and his merry band.

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

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