Stating up front that these things are entirely a matter of taste and perception, (IOW- there is no reason to berate someone else for either a glowing or scathing review of a show/song/CD it is all a matter of opinion) I have always enjoyed TR more when he is with a band. When he is performing with a band, he is able to allow them to carry a bit of the load which seems to loosen him up, and allow him to concentrate on his end of the performance and there seem to be fewer rough edges.
However, as we have all seen and read before, when performing solo, it can be more of a hit or miss affair. Particularly at the start of these tours, glitches, flubs, forgotten lyrics, bad throat, all stand out as glaringly obvious in the solo spotlight. All of which created experiences like that which was apparently had by the poor folks in Melbourne on the opening night of this tour. (A night so notorious that it was mentioned in the local paper's preview of the show.) "Despite a rough start to the tour (some of his fans' online assessments were brutal,) it sounds as though Rundgren is back near the top of his game."
OK.....with that said, let me say this about that. The journalist was spot on in her assessment of Todd's proverbial state of performance. I just wish like crazy that those folks from the Melbourne show, and any others who have had the misfortune of having seen a "spotty" solo show through the years could have been at the show at Foxwoods on Sunday night.
As others have said, Ethel are extraordinary musicians and great fun. Joe put in a fine set and I couldn't help but chuckle at the irony of him flubbing the lyrics to "Stepping Out" after all this talk of TR and lyrics lost. Nobody's perfect, eh?
Like so many of you, I have seen Todd a bazillion times in every conceivable configuration. Solo, twisted, half twisted, trio, huge ensemble, arenas, sheds, theaters, city parks, casinos. But I say this with careful consideration, I don't think that I have ever heard his voice stronger than it was Saturday night. Only one time all night did his voice crack under the strain of going for the high note. He seemed to be into it and enjoying himself and it showed in his performance. Sublime.
Same could be said for his playing. The 12 string sounded great, and when he walked to the piano I thought, "Oh no." But no need to worry, he was great. Even the high octane bit of "Viking Song" was as tight as that sort of crazy playing can be.
Most telling was the fact that our friends who went along to see Joe Jackson were disappointed in his portion of the show, and instead left the theater talking about the power of Todd's voice and overall performance.
Others have said it, but if you don't believe them, take it from a skeptic. This show is great, don't miss it.