Review of the May 20th 2004 show in WPB Florida

Review by Mike Spitz (Switch to

The Carefree Theater is an old movie house. They still show movies there, usually the classy or obscure kind. Maybe the place seats a thousand, maybe a little more or less. You can't see a show at a better venue.

The show is almost entirely the new album. That's fine, I guess, unless you came to hear "I Saw The Light" and "A Dream Goes On Forever". The set is sparse, but works just fine. There's lots of use of lights. The costumes are... odd. There's an overall quasi-"religious" suggestion to the set and to the outfits.

The band starts out gangbusters. There's a LOT of bass. Jesse Gress plays a mean guitar, which is fine because Todd barely picks his up all night. Mostly he sings and gestures. The voice is in good form. I'd heard that the show was loud and muddy, but it sounded good at The Carefree.

They do several songs from the new album, a really nice version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that features what's probably Todd's best guitar work of the evening. The guy's got a few dozen albums of really wonderful material, and he does a Beatles song. Go figure.

"Fascist Christ" is interesting. Yes, the entire first portion of the show has a distinctly anti-religious bent to it. Todd preaches. (He barely speaks to the audience the entire show, but he does have something to say, apparently.) The first set closes with a blasting, scathing, screeeaaammming version of "Liar".

Todd does a few songs solo on an electric "acoustic guitar" while the band changes costumes- including "Beloved Infidel". I have to admit that I genuinely did not recognize the last "acoustic" song he did. He does "Buffalo Grass" and the Todd-awful "I Hate My Frickin' ISP from the better-forgotten "One Long Year" fiasco. The guy's got a few dozen albums of really wonderful material, and he does....

"Love Science", "Feel It" and a few other unexpected tunes.

The band does some long instrumental vamping while Todd changes costume. There'd already been a few instances where Todd stepped off stage for a few minutes at a time and there'd be more as the evening progressed. The band launches into... could that have been "Sissy Strut"?

Todd comes out and does.... a twenty minute jazz version of "Born To Synthesize" complete with "scat" vocals. Seeing a Todd show or, for that matter, listening to a Todd album can be like watching an art film or reading a classic novel. There will certainly be periods of brilliance, but you're likely to have to slog through some "difficult" passages as well.

More new material... Maybe a few "older" songs (although in my mind, I still think of anything newer than, say, the Utopia "Network" album as Todd's "newer" material. I've got to remind myself that he's got grown children who are younger than that material. "Past" from the new CD is just beautiful. There was apparently a fight in the front row and he stopped a few bars into the song and threatened to "throw all of yiz out". He'll never quite lose the Philly accent.

He didn't do "Future", "Flaw", or "Happy Anniversary" from the new Liars CD, but he did just about everything else.

The show ended on "For Want of a Nail". Pardon the pun, but for the want of a lyric, Todd was lost. Late in the song, he found himself on the wrong verse.

Lots of clapping, return of the band, the obligatory "Hello It's Me". The band leaves again. A one-song encore? Come on Todd, throw us a bone. That's the first "classic" song that's been sung all night to this point.

Band comes out, does "Just One Victory". Todd once again finds himself searching for a lyric.

The band is great. The sound was just fine. The new material is really very good. Kasim Sulton's voice is unmistakable and you kept waiting for something from the "Ra" or "Oops Wrong Planet" elpees. Todd looks and sounds great.

It's not a cheap evening out, but if the Liars tour comes to your town, see it- especially if you can grab the show in the right venue.

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5/20/2004 - Carefree Theater - West Palm Beach, FL

Other reviews for overall Todd Rundgren and the Liars 2004

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