Todd Rundgren and The Liars, Royal Festival Hall 15 July 2004

Review by Xorg (Switch to

If you go to a Todd Rundgren concert in 2004 hoping to hear "Another Live" or "Go Ahead Ignore Me - Live" then you're going to be disappointed. Given that the tour is billed as "Todd Rundgren and The Liars", then you know it is going to focus on the Liars album. But that ain't such a bad thing. Liars is his most Todd-like album for ages and contains some great songs (and a couple of duds). Well, you can't have everything.

So, like the album, the concert has a (errmm) "concept" and there's a stage design, costumes, programmed lighting and quite a slick (ahem) professional presentation. Todd has some accomplished session players in the band who make it all look easy but -- and here's the difference -- they seemed to be enjoying it.

Todd himself, however, remains as inimitable as ever. His voice is tremendous. But he wore the stupidest pair of crepe-soled platform boots I ever saw and his hair looks awful. And, just like most of his audience these days, he's got a bit of a paunch and he's growing a double chin. I suppressed a snigger as he attempted to stretch his T-shirt over the overhang. (Been there, got the T-shirt). He played some nifty guitar solos in the first half but I had the feeling that he wasn't quite comfortable with the guitar later on and he fluffed a couple of chord changes in his semi-acoustic solo spot. The first half of the concert was taken up pretty much with Liars, but with some extras thrown in. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" might have been written for Todd to play.

The costume change at the halfway point is a gas and brought a cheer from the typically reserved London audience. Well, reserved for the most part. There were a half-dozen drunken Scotsmen there who yelled and heckled all the way through and attempted to dance, but they were kept in check by the ruthless Festival Hall Gendarmerie. The second half was mostly in lounge lizard soul brother mode and this was lost on the Kilted Visitors and Other Drunken Brethren. The encores, of course, were old favourites; Hello It's Me and Just One Victory brought everyone to their feet and some even rushed the stage -- not what you generally see (or is allowed) at the RFH.

There were a couple of shaky moments when Todd and the band were mucking about or when he did his weird stuff - and couldn't they think of a better song to showcase the band than 'Green Onions?'. Like one of Todd's songs, for instance. But overall it's great to see Todd is still Todd -- doing what he does, what he wants to do but still able to blow you away.

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7/15/2004 - Royal Festival Hall - London, England

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