Todd review Birmingham 14.07.04

Review by John Hughes (Switch to

It's been 32 years since I first heard a Todd song, and I've never been lucky enough to see him. So 14th July would be my first ever Todd concert, and owing to an unfortunalte timing of a work event, I spent three days in Sunny Glasgow this week, flying back yesterday afternoon and getting back in time to to see Todd. The ticket said 7.30.

I got to the hall at 7.28, thinking I'd go and buy a tour programme, and a souvenir t shirt - damn, I had 32 years of merchandising to catch up on, so I was going to buy everything - first disappointment - NO FUCKING MERCHANDISE!

No tour programme, one t shirt - even the biggest was too small for me - in black or white.

Not even a Todd mousemat, or mug, or keyring. They did however have Kasim Sulton's latest CD, so I bought that.

What is wrong with the man? here was the opportunity to sell - I'd have bought the lot - but nothing!

As I was paying, I heard the tannoy say - "Todd Rundgren will be on stage in one minute".

I thought, wha'? And as there was no support band, Todd indeed came on stage not in one minute, but at 7.40.

This unfortunately meant that for at least 45 minutes after he started, people were still going in to the hall. Which wasn't by any means full, probably about 1200 or so in there.

And that's another thing, it was completely the wrong hall for this show. In fact, there is a great Carling academy in Birmingham too, which is where the show should have been, like in Bristol.

Now Birmingham audiences are laidback. Well, they are a fucking disgrace as a rule, incredibly hard to get any reaction from. I have seen bands reduced to almost speechless rage at the audience for their lack of response to the band.

But audiences for "rock" music at the Symphony Hall are even worse - sitting in our comfy seats, patrolled by the hall steward nazis,m determined that no one should get out of a seat - in case you block the aisle and people can't get in case there's a fire" is the reason I was told by one such nazi when I complained after the show.

Anyway, my fears when I haerd the show was going to be at the Symphony Hall were realised. It was a terrible soul less place to have the show. We all sat in our comfy seats and clapped politely at the end of each song. A few brave souls did the Birmingham equivalent of "whoopin' and a hollerin' " US style, but it was all rather strangled by the embarrassment of being the only one doing it.

Anyway, first sight of the stage is it's interesting - Todd uses Bose radiator speakers (I think intended for home use) as on stage monitors, and there's a fairly modest PA set up - 2nd disappointment - it was never loud enough! and the mimimalist metal grids/LED backlighting screens that housed each musician were oddly restrictive, Kasim and Jesse Gress (bass and guitar respectively) only coming out of the "cage" to throw a few guitar poses in one song.

The set list was as at Bristol, a superb want of a nail (from nearly Human, one of my favourite Todd albums) - and the Liars songs given new flesh and emotions with the poses Todd was making during the songs.

We also had an extended Born to synthesise, done lounge style, which featured - I'm afraid - the individual solo's, including an inventive one from Kasim. Todd did say at the end of the song that Bristol didn't get a bass solo - if that's the case, poor Bristol.

After two and a quarter hours Todd left the stage, and I have to say while I would have loved a set of the songs I've loved over the years, the time flew by.

And despite the lacklustre audience, and the hall security nazis, I loved it.

And it's off to London to see his "prestigious London" gig tonight!

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7/14/2004 - Birmingham Symphony Hall - Birmingham, England

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