Review of Sept 22nd Portland Show

Review by Susan Florentino (Switch to

Musically, conceptually, and visually, the Todd Rundgren show at the Alladin was unforgettable. A complex mix of deeply reflective lyrics, synthesized layers of sound, supreme musicianship, and from-the-heart vocals captivated the audience for more than two hours. This is not to mention otherworldly visuals and gothic stagecraft. In truth, I had no idea what to expect. As a Philly teenager, I was a huge Nazz fan, and last saw Todd in Dallas Texas when he shattered a drumstick during the finale of an Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect show. In the Alladin show, he shattered only expectations and cultural icons.

From the first refrains of Sweet and Truth, it was clear that the band was hot, and that his voice is a force to be reckoned with, more now than ever. Each piece progressively took aim at our most familiar illusions. Organized religion was given the finger with verve and humor. This was interspersed with a straight-ahead cover of My Guitar Gently Weeps that just glowed with respect. Overpoweringly large sounds vibrated with perfectly timed colored rhythms and raucous rock-flavored scream fests. During Liar, lyrics were unfortunately unintelligible. The political banter was fun, but at the Alladin was probably preaching to the choir.

Use of massive synthesized sound to honor truth was starting to wear, but Toddís soulful voice and fine harmonies from the band proved a touchstone. Just when it seemed overdue for vocals that were higher in the mix, we were treated to a solo set. The hard-working band emerged for the third set switching gears and clothing. They carried on with an extended Booker T. jam, wearing Cab Calloway suits and laying down riffs that seemed jazzy, yet soulful, but a little twisted. Solos highlighted the formidable talents of the band. To my dismay, Jesse got a little carried away with the distortion, but Kasim took us to another level with a perfect blend of melodic finesse, and thump slapping force. A bass solo indeed!

Although Hello Itís Me is not the best Rundgren song, the authenticity of it and Toddís connection with the audience was a transcendent experience. The whole concert reminded me of rediscovering an old friend after many years, and seeing more than was there before. The truth is sweet and so is this music.

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9/22/2004 - Aladdin Theater - Portland, OR

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