Royal Festival Hall, London 15th July 2004

Review by Neil Lester (Switch to

I was sorry to discover that some people found this gig disappointing, because both my son and I enjoyed ourselves immensely.

From where we were, in the front row of the stalls, the sound quality was the best Iād ever experienced at a live show, and the volume was perfect for me. I must just say, though, that at a recent gig by another band at a different venue, I subsequently found myself to be the only one complaining about bad sound quality, so I do fully appreciate what itās like to be in the wrong position, and this being a seated show makes it worse for the ones who are suffering because, if they do realise the bad sound is down to their position, theyāre unable to do anything about it. If I wanted to be picky, my only comments about the sound would be that the guitar solos were slightly lost in the mix at times, and Toddās guitar on ĪLunatic Fringeā was a bit mushy. For me, the sound of the drums, bass, and keyboards were all truly outstanding and perfectly clear, the playing was excellent, and Toddās voice was fantastic.

Iāve never seen Todd live before, although Iāve drifted in and out of degrees of fanaticism since ĪOpen Your Eyesā and the first Nazz album and, for most of the show I was spellbound, just sitting there with a permanent grin on my face. I was also in awe of being so close to Prairie Prince and Kasim Sulton.

I thought the set list was well constructed. After all, it was the ĪLiarsā tour so I expected a fair amount from that album, and I donāt think things would have flowed as well if some of the older tunes had been worked in. ĪTiny Demonsā and ĪCompassionā are among my favourites but, for this gig, I was happy to leave them where they belong. Looking back, I think there was something there for everyone, and I am lost for words for some people who seem to expect a whole set of songs from their own favourite era made up to suit them personally.

The Beatles cover was relevant as representing a part of what Todd has meant to me over the years, and I think the song was a good choice. When the lead guitar came in, I was surprised at how close the sound was to the original version. I did think the two lead guitars together in the solos made it a little sloppy, though, and itās unfortunate but it is very difficult to not draw comparisons with the original.

The only song during which I found my mind wandering slightly was ĪLunatic Fringe, maybe because there didnāt seem anything particular to hold my interest in the guitar work, sound, or the song but it could also have been due to it having followed a stunningly beautiful performance of ĪBeloved Infidelā. I can see perfectly why this song was there, though, and right now am at a loss to suggest a better one to replace it.

On the face of it, it does seem strange to include ĪGreen Onionsā in the set but, thinking about it now, I really couldnāt think of a more suitable tune for the band to unveil their change into brightly coloured suits to. Also, Iām sure that some other acts playing a set of this length might have taken a break during which they didnāt provide any entertainment at all so, even if I hadnāt enjoyed it, I certainly wouldnāt complain.

Anything unexpected or different which happens during a gig makes it a more memorable and pleasant experience for me. The replacing of the broken guitar string was a great example, creating a whole new avenue of interest which wouldnāt have existed had Jesse simply picked up another guitar. I saw a little video camera being used but am not sure if the whole gig was filmed with the intention of there being a future DVD. If so, I would be first in the queue on the day of release, and would hope that all of this incident was included.

Several people left the hall during the course of the evening, and I found this unbelievable because it would have been an awful wrench for me to have had to miss any of it. Introducing ĪFlawā, Todd said that, as it was a PG venue, perhaps the youngsters would like to take their toilet break now because we were about to get down to some adult talk, and my immediate thought was that it was a little dig at those who had found it necessary to go out but I guess that was just the way I saw it. Someone has complained about Toddās own constant leaving but I welcomed this because it gave me a chance to concentrate upon, and appreciate, the other fine musicians on the stage.

The audience were reserved but, in a seated situation, I think itās difficult for them to act much differently, especially given this particular venue. However, the final rush to the stage for ĪJust one victoryā did speak for something, and also paved the way for both my son and I to get to touch the great manās hand.

The stage set, lighting, and costumes were brilliant, and all helped add up to making this one of the best concerts Iāve ever been to, and I would say that anyone taking the ĪSpinal Tapā comparison too seriously needs to get themselves a sense of humour. The Todd falling asleep bit was ace, and I really liked the version of ĪBorn to Synthesizeā, as I did ĪHello itās meā with itās gradually building introduction. All in all, not just brilliant music but a great evening of visual entertainment too. Eleven out of eleven........ come back soon guys!

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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