TR & The Liars Review

Review by Patrick Rogers (Switch to

In Todd's last 2 swings through town (solo tours), he played in an absolute pit of a club, so we were quite happy to learn that this time through, we got, as Bart Simpson would say, "a change of venue." This plus the fact that he was toting a very capable band gave us much hope for a great show. And, all in all, I can't say we were disappointed. I have read other reviews that proclaimed this was the best Todd show yet, but I wouldn't go quite that far. Most of the negative issues seemed technical in nature: the mix was incredibly LOUD and muddy at times, and tech trouble reared its ugly head throughout (Todd had to false start his solo section and make disparaging remarks about Dallas' dearth of "decent" concert halls, while Kas spent most of the night barking at an unseen tech off to stage right). But, it wouldn't be a Todd show without these issues, right? And about the only other negative I had about the show was set-list related. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just didn't seem to be a logical progression from song to song. Setlist highlights were VERY high: 'Mammon' rocked, 'Love Science' really got the crowd into the show, and I thought 'Past' and 'Godsaid' from the new album were great. Not so crazy about 'BTS,' 'Lunatic Fringe,' or the new one 'Sweet,' and 'WMGGW' seemed like an odd choice for some reason.

The show started with 'Truth' preloaded and the musicians filing in and playing into the song. My first thought was that there would be pre-recorded music all the way through, and I'm not really sure how much background "filler" was kept going to round out the sound throughout the show, but it wouldn't have been necessary with the caliber of this band. The costumes were hilarious, and the light show made a world of difference. I assume it's intentional that for the first couple of songs that visual effects blur the band, or at least that's the way I saw it (my wife said she didn't see this, so maybe it was just me). Either way, it definitely added to the overall theme as they gradually came into clear focus, which I presume is Todd's overarching symbolism with the new material. Can someone confirm if this was intentional or if I hallucinated? They played with their various laptops and gadgets through the show, which was a little distracting, but certainly lent to the overall hi-tech feel. The pimp suits section opened with a Booker T. send up as Kas prowled the stage and served as a band director. Todd came back for 'Soul Brother' and seemed surprised that Kas was out of his cage and it looked like they had a quick laugh about it before admonishing him back into his box. There must be great camaraderie between these guys.

The musicianship was top-notch. Jesse should be awarded the green hard hat for his work on this night - he is really an accomplished musician and played effortlessly and really well. Prairie and Kas kept the bottom quite tight, and John played well in his unusual style. As for Todd, he picked up the foamy a few times and ripped out some solos, all of which were dead on. Where Todd shone the brightest was vocally, though - he put in a hell of an effort ('Liar' - wow), and sounded great all the way through. Would have liked to have had a little more punch on the backing vox, as well as feature Kas on one or two songs, but other than that and some muddy parts thanks to the mix, it was really good.

As a funny aside, there was a guy at the bar as we walked in who was insisting to the barkeep that a band called 'The Liars' was opening for TR, and he wanted to know what kind of music they played. As you can imagine, the bartender had no idea what this guy was talking about (I doubt he even knew who Todd was, let alone this mystery opening act). I guess the guy figured it out when the show started. After the 'Have Gun, Will Travel' era, I have to say this was a welcome change. It's great that Todd's still at it, and though the material is edgy (my wife commented that she hoped these guys had banked a lot of karma after hearing the lyrics and seeing the opening costumes), it is obviously fueling him, so bravo. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this show - thanks to TR for mustering all the needed elements to pull off a really good tour.

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5/26/2004 - TBA - San Antonio, TX

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