Colston Hall Bristol 31.5.05

Review by Howlin' Pete (Switch to

Todd's return to Bristol last year was amazing and unpredictable.After the great Liars show at the Academy, we could never have expected him to return here inside ten months. After being starved of Todd Rundgren shennanigans for so long, it seems he's decided , much like that other musical marvel, Brian Wilson, to come over here and take his rightful acclaim and have a good time into the bargain. And of course what makes this tour such a delight is the virtuoso performances by Todd, Joe Jackson and Ethel,who together have almost resurrected the 1960's Pop Package Tour.

Ethel, as in P'Mouth the previous night, played superbly and passionately, so much so that their foot stomping during the pieces they played was sending the sheet music all over the shop. They seem to be so happy to be touring Europe and are very respectful to their audiences. It's worth checking out their website at ethelcentral.

Joe gave us smashing renditions of his tunes and seemed to enjoy the response from the audience. Highlights included Take it like A Man, It's Different for Girls, Love at First Light, Steppin' Out, On Your Radio and the 1913 tune, Who's Your Lady Friend which Joe will be playing in an upcoming film 'The Greatest Game Ever Played. He'll be a piano player in an East End pub and the fact that the song mentions both Margate and Brighton, went down very well with an english audience, Penny and I in particular.

Todd, in red velvet jacket and blue shirt, entered the fray in good humour but broke a string in the first five seconds of Love of a Common Man which caused a few laughs.(The audience in fact were sometimes quite boisterous between the songs which was nice to see) But he recovered and played wonderful versions of LOACM and Cliche. Most of us over here never dreamed that we'd hear Todd play these songs again in the UK and he played passionately and sang superbly throughout his fifty minute set.Inspired by the suggestion that there might be spirits in the house and several unwanted comments from a stoned female fan, he then launched into a probably unscheduled Tiny Demons, which took me back to that Old Grey Whistle Test Special from 1982. An aggressive Black and White was followed by a contrasting Beloved Infidel, showing that he's clearly going to mix his songs up on this Tour- which is nice.

He continued to have fun at the keyboard with Song of the Viking and then delivered the most amazing, heartfelt Hawking which really was one of the greatest things I've ever heard.Even including a couple of Les Dawson bum notes. The audience was visibly moved and in fact were incredibly quiet and respectful throughout which isn't always the case Stateside we understand. If he plays it again on this tour, prepare to be moved.

Then, his only 'hit' Hello it's Me (the night before when he played his only UK 'turntable' hit, 'I Saw the Light, on acoustic, and sang it straight, I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck, thirty years after first hearing what I consider to be the ultimate pop single. What a geezer, he is.)

He then offered up the parallel parking/Hawaii story and had a good time with the ukelele before asking us to join him on the Beatles', You've Got to Hide Your Love Away with the West Country's finest, rising to the challenge on the 'Hey' bits. Lovely stuff.

Todd never seems to tire of singing Lysistrada and rightly so and he gave it loads yet again, bringing his initial set to a passionate finish.

He was then joined by Ethel for a stunning Pretending to Care and as on the Liars tour one gets the impression that Todd really is happy to just sing, without a guitar in his hands, and concentrate on getting his emotion across to us.I could try and dress this review up with fancy words and suchlike but really, it was turning out to be one of the best nights of my life and I've been to hundreds of shows in my 46 years but this one is up there.It's difficult to convey but I suspect most of you will know what I mean. And around me I could see that the likes of Spike (who received one of Todd's plectrums tonight), my lovely Penny, Stefan (our friend who's been a solitary Todd fan for ten years and had never seen him before) and everybody else was feeling the same. Todd then took a break and Joe returned to play Real Men with Ethel which went down a storm.

Then with Joe at the keyboard with marracas in hand and Ethel complementing beautifully, Todd on acoustic guitar played a wonderful, Stood Up. So nice to be able to sing 'Dragging my Knuckles along the Ground' in the company of others. Joe and Todd Reynolds (from Ethel) chipped in on backing vocals and it really was Success City.

Joe then began to play a song from his first album called Got the Time and Todd played electric guitar which he continued to play for the final song of the night which was While My Guitar Gently Weeps, co-sung with Joe. Another passionate performance from all concerned with Todd finishing the proceedings with a suitably animated Townshend leap.

So what more can I offer you? A beautiful special evening with, wonderful committed musicians, friends, recent acquaintances, lovely songs, and Todd passionately playing out all those vibrant thoughts in his head but keen to have laughs as well. What a trooper he is to be sure. I really can't see any negative reviews coming out of this European stretch of the Tour, can You?

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren, Joe Jackson and Ethel 2005
05/31/2005 - Colston Hall - Bristol, England

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.