Gateshead, 6th June 2005

Review by Steve (Switch to

After last years 'Liars' tour, I predicted Todd would return for an acoustic 'greatest hits' tour. Well, though not quite correct, this was a welcome return, in different company and in a magnificent venue.

Ethel started the proceedings and gave us something a little different, their short set highlighted by the impressive Mississippi blues piece.

Joe Jackson gave a faultless performance, mixing old hits with newer material and he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the audience, which is always welcome to see. For just one guy and a piano in this auditorium, he gave a very-much-note-perfect rendition of songs. The guy deserves bigger and better recognition.

A short interval and Todd takes the stage.

Starting on guitar with standard versions of 'LOTCM' and 'I saw the light', the third song 'Cliché', was threatened by a broken string, but Todd soldiered on, humourously filling in the missing notes, much to the crowd's amusement.

A few quips and a change of guitar for 'Black & White' where lightning struck twice as another guitar string broke leaving Todd no choice but to cut-off mid song and apologise before heading for the sanctuary of the piano.

Things could have gone downhill quickly from here but Todd steadied the boat with 'The Viking Song' and an unexpected inclusion of 'Difference' before demonstrating that nothing was going to put him off his stride by giving us an excellent version of 'Compassion'.

Back to the guitar for a problem-free replay of 'B&W' and a great version of 'Afterlife' which was a bonus for those of us who missed it on the Liars tour.

'Tiny Demons','Drum' and 'Lysistrata' followed before Todd ended his set on piano with a refreshing and perfect 'Hello It's Me'.

Ethel returned to the stage to accompany Todd on the quirky 'LC Nightmare Song' which summed up the versatility of the night, before pulling out all the stops for a mesmerising vocal performance on 'Pretending To Care'. Without a doubt the highlight of the night and worth the admission alone. This version should be recorded!

Joe returned to join the ensemble, played a couple more of his songs and Todd chipped in with an impressive version of 'Soul Brother' The show ended with a superb 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'

It's a pity the Todd / Joe / Ethel set could'nt have gone on for longer. It's a unique combination and one that works well together and I'm sure I was'nt the only one wishing for more at the end. That can only be a good sign.

What next? "Wait another year, Utopia is here··." That's what we're all waiting to hear!

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