Review of Royal Festival Hall show, 15th July 2004

Review by Chris Whitten (Switch to

To cut to the chase, what a HUGE disappointment. One of the worst shows I've ever seen.

I must confess, the last time I saw Rundgren was 1980 (Central Park, NY). I've kept up with his career though and bought CD's of his music etc...... My brother bought tickets for the London gig and I went along fearing what I might witness. In fact it was worse than I expected.

Low points:

The old Carmina Burana intro tape chestnut, now used by every sub-pro wannabe group all over the world. Has no one in the Rundgren camp ever seen Spinal Tap?

No guitar round Rundgren's neck, replaced by silly hand movements, or by him repeatedly rushing off stage as if he couldn't think of anything better to do.

No communication with the audience for the first hour or so of the gig. Is this an attempt to seem aloof or serious? Todd used to 'say' all that with his music.

Not much communication with the band. Even though Kasim and Prairie have LONG standing relationships with Todd, it seemed from where I was sitting as though he treated them like side men he'd hired just before the show.

Green Onions! What can I say........have the previous positive reviewers lost their faculties? I've heard semipro bands play better versions. What a choice of cover too! The thing that hurt the most was listening to a 10 minute, bar band version of a cliché cover, when 40 or more stunning Rundgren classics remained unplayed on the night............. unloved children?

Born to Synthesize.........why? why? why?

No one in the Liars band is a great jazz player. Why play a dodgy, jazzy version of what, in it's time, was an innovative and classic Todd song. At this point I felt like someone had mugged me for the price of my ticket.

The new material:

Why is Todd performing songs with techno/house drumbeats, why is he rapping (poorly) about religion, why is he singing in a guttural pseudo Metallica vocal style?

I was almost teary eyed when we finally got to some decent material, For the Want of a Nail, HIM and JOV. The potential was there in spades. Todd still has the magic, Prairie is an awesome drummer, Kasim is a fantastic bass player and singer.

By the way, I'm not asking for a historical show as such. I see Todd is trying to move on. I've moved on too. I'm a music professional and I'm enthusiastic about contemporary music and bands, electronica, urban music, jazz, singer-songwriters.

It seems to me Todd has thrown the baby out with the bath water though by ditching all his classic material. In fact to my ears he's moved on to the 80's and stalled there.

Todd really reminds me of McCartney at this point. At the end of the 80's Macca was at his lowest ebb artistically. Then he hit the headlines by reviving all his classic material and putting it together in a strong (and unapologetic) show. 10 years later he's still selling out venues all over the world.

I think I'll wait until Todd announces his greatest hits for the millennium tour. This tour was an insult to my intelligence.

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren and the Liars 2004
7/15/2004 - Royal Festival Hall - London, England

Other reviews for overall Todd Rundgren and the Liars 2004

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