The last few times through the area Todd has played the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, an intimate dinner theater that seats around 200. The tickets are pricey but you are up close and personal with the artist. Rams Head Live is a huge double decker bar at Baltimore's Inner Harbor that probably holds a few thousand folks. Last night the place looked fairly full before the 8pm start. While this would have been a fine place for the "Liars" tour, and last nights crowd was loud and enthusiastic, it was just the wrong kind of venue for this show. From beginning to end there was a constant din of noise coming from all the bars located around the room. It was tolerable for some of Todd's louder songs on guitar but it ruined my enjoyment of Ethel and made it difficult to appreciate Joe Jackson's quieter presentation. My wife really got mad on the drive to Baltimore when I told her I didn't think there were seats in this club. Luckily there is this weirdly positioned balcony of about 15 rows of bleacher type sitting straight up from the stage but where the third level of the room would be. The sound wasn't the best up there and we watched the entire show with a certain tunnelvision type of perpective. It wasn't the best vantage point but at least it saved my aching back- Attention Todd....the acoustic shows are so much more enjoyable when you aren't standing for 4 hours. I continue to be amazed that people of my (Todd's) generation, now in their 40's and 50's will show up at these shows and proceed to drink all night long, talk to their date and never pay attention to the show. I'm all for having a good time but they really ruin it for those who go to hear the music. Grow up already!
I just finished Joe Jackson's autobiography " A Cure For Gravity" the day before the show and it is a wonderfully witty, poignant, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious and very well written book that I highly recommend to anyone who loves music of his generation. My wife Karen said Joe reminded her of Caspar the friendly ghost. The last time she saw him was in the mid 1980's in France where she claimed he stopped several songs in progress because people were talking- obviously he's mellowed a bit, or last night he would have had a conniption with the gab fest going on at the bar. Anyway, Joe was great, if not a little bit subdued. I blame the venue, the talking and my lousy seats for much of that perception. His new stuff is a return to his original more pop oriented sound and I note for all of you who haven't heard yet that Joe and his original band last year recorded an additional unreleased track....Todd's "Couldn't I just tell you" for what is described on Joe's web site as a Todd Rundgren tribute cd to be released next year. That's the first I heard of that...anyone know more???
Sorry for rambling on- the set list has already been posted and Todd was as good on piano last night as I've ever heard him. Viking was perfect! Still no "Boat on the Charles" but I can always dream. He either practiced after Melbourne or he was really concentrating. He seemed in great spirits and we all know how that makes a huge difference in his performance. As a few people have noted earlier- for the real die-hards among us, "Pretending to Care" is worth the price of admission. "While my guitar gently weeps" and "Black Maria" would have blown the doors off if it didn't sound like they turned down Todd's guitar for fear of overpowering Joe and Ethel. Oh well- the price you pay for this eclectic presentation. I'm a huge fan and I really enjoyed this show. It's not one I'd go to see twice, but it was so much more interesting than the usual Todd solo acoustic show that we've been seeing most of the last 10 years. I only wish I hadn't moved so far south last summer and could have ventured instead to Philly where the beautiful Kimmel Center will allow this show to really shine.