TR/Joe Jackson/Ethel in Harrisburg, 4/21

Review by Brian Leonard (Switch to

Just got back from Harrisburg and the terrific Forum--one of the nicest small venues I've ever seen. Would that OH's performance lived up to the venue, but it didn't quite do so. For one thing, Todd is sick with what appears to be the same disease I have: a low-level cold that hangs on, with occasional coughing fits. I had a lot of sympathy for him as he tried to get his voice (and his fingers) under control, succeeding much of the time but certainly not all.

He joked a lot with the crowd and was very responsive to audience comments--at one point someone shouted out "Leroy!" (I guess he wanted to hear "We Gotta Get You A Woman") and Todd gave the crowd his best quizzical look before leaning into the mic and intoning "Leroy...please meet your party in the lobby." Technical problems plagued him as well: he broke strings near both the beginning and the end of his appearance ("you suck!" he screamed at the first string that broke); his piano light didn't work at first (at which he noted "I'm no Jamie Foxx" and did an imitation of Foxx as Ray Charles); the ukelele volume was way too low until halfway through the uke song; and, worst of all, his guitar was almost inaudible during the finale, "Black Maria", which otherwise sounded great with Joe Jackson & Ethel accompanying him.

All in all, I enjoyed Todd's set even with the problems (including some bum chords on piano and, surprisingly, guitar), but I kinda wish he'd retire some of the songs I've heard at virtually every Todd solo show I've been to: "Cliche" (although he absolutely nailed it--perhaps the best version I've ever heard), "Lysistrata", "Song of the Viking", "Love of the Common Man", and especially the latecoming but (to me, anyway) always unwelcome "Bang on the Ukelele Daily". OTOH, it's still great to hear "I Don't Want To Tie You Down"; "Hello, It's Me" was as passionate as I've ever heard Todd sing it live; the Beatles songs were very well done; "Pretending To Care" had great string accompaniment by Ethel (although Todd's voice wasn't quite up to it); and it was terrific to hear "The Wheel", which I don't think I've ever heard him do live.

I'm definitely a bigger Todd fan than a Joe Jackson fan, but I have to admit that Joe's set was sterling and was alone worth the price of admission. His attitude towards the audience has certainly mellowed since his early years! As for Ethel: they are obviously excellent musicians and they really enhanced the four songs they played with Joe & Todd, but their opening set didn't thrill me because most of the material was just kinda blah (although they did rock out as much as a string quartet can at the end of their last number). The best group I've ever seen of this type--classical musicians playing pop--was The Ordinaires, and Ethel just wasn't up to that standard.

Brian Leonard

The Setlist (sorry, I didn't write down Ethel's numbers' titles):

Hometown into Steppin' Out
Awkward Age
Take It Like A Man
It's Different For Girls
Obvious Song
Hello, Hello, Who's Your Lady Friend (1913 music hall song--watch for him 
 performing this and/or similar songs in the upcoming Disney film The
Greatest Game Ever Played)
Love At First Light
Real Man
Is She Really Going Out With Him

Todd: Lysistrata I Don't Want To Tie You Down Love Of The Common Man Cliche Afterlife Song Of The Viking It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference Hello It's Me Bang On The Ukelele Daily You've Got To Hide Your Love Away Beloved Infidel The Wheel

Joe with Ethel: The Other Me

Todd with Ethel: Pretending To Care

All: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Encore (All): Black Maria

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren, Joe Jackson and Ethel 2005
04/21/2005 - Forum Auditorium - Harrisburg, PA

Other reviews for overall Todd Rundgren, Joe Jackson and Ethel 2005

The Todd Rundgren Connection is brought to you by Roger D. Linder & The Linder Logo Rocemabra Web Services.