I was 5 rows from the front and about 5 seats right of centre (not like me to be right of centre - I must have "swung to the right" somehow) so the sound & view should have been perfect. Well, the view was - I got some awesome photos (in spite of the venue fascist that tried to get me to stop taking them - after a 20 year drought, do you really think I could be stopped?) But the sound was really patchy - the bass was awesome but I couldn't hear a note of Todd's guitar solos! I left with a deaf right ear but a fully functional left. Having read reviews of several venues, I think that there was a real problem with "dead zones" in most of the halls.
But enough of the technical, what was the Toddster like? Well, I must confess that in the first few numbers, I had doubts about his voice holding out. He seemed to be struggling to reach the high notes - could Todd be showing his age at last? No, of course not! He got stronger with every song and by the time they reached "Mammon" I was surprised he even needed a PA system at all. I love the new album (best thing Todd's done since Nearly Human) and he did every track he played from it justice. The title track was a real show-stopper - my gonads are STILL vibrating! I was getting a little peeved at the lack of between-song chatter but was soothed by a friend that had seen them in Bristol and assured me that that was all about to change!
Todd's solo spot was not the greatest - Beloved Infidel was OK but this would have been the ideal spot to introduce a few of the real oldies (Cliche, perhaps?)
In spite of the idiot reviewers comments in the Grauniad - Green onions was fine - The band really let rip and showed off their individual talents without getting too self-indulgent (not that I would have minded if they did, musicians of this calibre deserve a bit of license!) And Jesse Gress's suit was Maverick on E - sit down at any poker table wearing that and the rest of the players would just leave!
Enter Todd again in an understated little ORANGE-AS-IT-GETS suit with a shirt that is TOO-ORANGE-TO-LOOK-AT and a (matching?) luminous, salmon-pink tie. For me, this half of the show was perfection - I loved Past, Soul Brother (are you sure Todd ain't black?) and Flaw (complete with health-warning - "if you brought the kids, they may want to go to the toilet now!" - who else but Todd would pen the most saccharine sweet, boy-band-friendly little R'n'B masterpiece you could imagine and casually drop in an unbroadcastable obscenity?) I was floored by the version of Born to Synthesize - the LAST Todd track I ever expected to hear live - and played in a slinky lounge-jazz style that completely reinvented the song (We NEED that version on an album soon Todd!!) Jesse snapped a string right at the start of his solo and left the floor clear for Kaz to flex his mighty 5-string fretless bass - the crowd loved the homage to Singring (your humble correspondent included) although Todd took the piss a bit "You probably thought that if you were safe from a bass solo anywhere, it was here!". There was an excellent version of Love Science but the highlight for me was the 2 tracks from Nearly Human - Feel it & Want of a Nail were stunning, really illustrating the precision & tightness of the band.
I must admit that there are a dozen Todd songs that I would have preferred as an encore to "Hello it's Me" (Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel - Can We Still be Friends - The Verb "To love", etc.) but the sing-along opportunity seemed to be appreciated by the crowd - any without the new album must have felt a bit left-out - but than again, that's their fault!
My moment of fame came at the start of the 2nd encore - Just 1 Victory, of course - I called for another bass solo (yes it was me, and I'm proud of it!) and got a clenched fist salute from Kaz!! I also got to shake Todd's hand during the outro of the song - guess he didn't recognise me as the guy that wanted 2 bass solos!
Todd is still God - I just hope I don't need another 20 years+ to prove that to myself again.
By the way, can anyone confirm wether Todd played "Stood Up" at this show? - I thought he did but a guy I spoke to at Manchester was sure he didn't - false memory? Or was I right?