Todd Rundgren with Hall & Oates, Cape Cod Melody Tent

Review by Dan Styklunas (Switch to

Two Todd shows in the middle of the week... hmmm, that makes day 2 a "work from home" kind of day. The beautiful weather continues in New England, a little cooler but delightful nonetheless.

The Cape Cod Melody Tent is a smaller venue than the previous night in Boston, 2300 at full capacity, and the show is sold out. It is a theater-in-the-round, and looks like a little white carousel. I’m told that for some shows the stage does not turn slowly, but for tonight it should. But I spent the entire "Lysistrata" opening trying to determine if the stage was indeed turning, or it was just my natural light-headedness.

The set was the same as the previous night, with these exceptions:

Todd was missing about the 10% of his range on these first two shows... the very high falsettos are just not showing up. But otherwise he’s singing well and having fun, with good phrasing, focus, and animation. One of these nights that extra 10% will show up, and someone’s in for a treat. This is a very enjoyable show, for me more so than the TR/JJ/Ethel tour. You get Todd with a full backing band, along with Philly soul cousins Hall and Oates... a very complementary bill.

The H&O band seemed much more comfortable tonight, as did Todd. The first night hesitation was gone, and the band pretty much nailed everything. With the smaller, centered stage, I could see that sax-utility-man Charlie DeChant was triggering some things with a keyboard, and drummer Michael Braun had an Apple iBook to his left, likely playing a few samples for the Liars tunes. Once again "Love Is the Answer" is the highlight of Todd’s opening set. Not sure how many fans here ever heard the Liars tunes, as most were not there to see him. Tears for Fears was originally the opening act, and that’s likely why Todd sang "Cliché" instead of "Afterlife."

At the break I prepay for the Instant Live CD recording. Even though there were conflicting reports over whether or not it included the encores, I’m just too curious. Plus, they tell me it does, though not Todd’s opening set. 2 CD’s for $25... not cheap, but quite a feat if they can pull it off.

Hall and Oates comes out, and I notice now the stage is turning the opposite way... ok, not sure if that’s supposed to mean anything, but I imagine it’s some attempt to be fair to the crowd. Given it is a small, cozy venue, the sound is not all that great at all. Open air always seems best for sound. The tent may not make for hard reflections, but I have nothing else to blame it on. It’s not terrible, but not clean.

A reminder-you’re-getting-old moment hits me during "She’s Gone," one of the 2 songs that really broke Hall & Oates big time in 1976. It occurs to me... why not pull out the old bic lighter, and flick it during a particular pregnant moment? Seemed like a great idea, and who knows, maybe it catches on to bring back some of that spirit of the 70's. No chance, as within seconds a fat white-haired security guard is in my face and confiscates it like I'm a terrorist about to light my shoes or something. So "She's Gone," and so is that light-it-up spirit that many of us used to enjoy. (Not entirely – at a U2 concert earlier this year, Bono asked the crowd to whip out their cell phones and hold them up, creating a very similar effect. But... it is not quite the same thing.)

Todd joins the band for the encores, same set as the first night, and during the intro to "Wait for Me," he shrieks "I LOVE this song!" like a teenage girl, just enough off-mic to make you wonder if it was a real fan. Funny stuff, and it blends nicely with the "YEEEEEEEEEE-HAH!" gal behind me.

Once again Todd and Daryl trade off opening verses to each other's songs. We hear a few new improv lines from Todd and Daryl during "Can We Still Be Friends," including:

Can we still get together?
It'd be such a waste if we couldn't...
Gimme a call if you wanna get together sometime...

Then Daryl continues:
I know... I know it's hard to do...
We gotta make it through, make it through...
We can't go on like this... I wanna know...

... leading into a nice soprano sax solo from Charlie DeChant.

Unlike in 2002, Todd does not solo on "Kiss on My List," but he is a guitar holder on "Wait for Me." And he clearly had a ball on the encores, with lots of handshakes and high-fives following the last number, the O'Jay's "Love Train," culminating with Todd putting an exclamation point on the entire night – after the last downbeat he screams "SWEEEEEET!" into the mic. How sweet it is!

As advertised, the Instant Live CDs were indeed available about 15 minutes after showtime. They must have the system down... to produce on the fly like that is impressive. There was a long line to buy them from people who paid prior to the show or at the break... hundreds of them. On the way home we pop it in the CD player, and are greatly surprised at how good it sounds. So good in fact, it makes you wonder why it sounded so mediocre inside. I do recommend getting one, and also that you prepay to avoid long lines after the show. But be aware that Todd's opening set is NOT included, though all the encores are.

Here are some kisses on MY wish list: During a brief sound check, I heard someone playing the chords of "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference." Don't get your hopes up... I'm just sayin' I heard it is all.

I wish I could hear Todd join them on some other soul covers. "Love Train" is great, but I want to hear them team up on Marvin Gaye's "After the Dance," a song covered on the "Our Kind of Soul" CD. TR has a well-known fondness for Marvin, and again we hear the master on the pre-show music. Also I would have liked to hear H&O do one of the only originals from their latest record, "Soul Violins." It's a song that when you hear it you rack your brain trying to remember who did the original... then you read that Daryl and John did it. Very authentic.

How about Daryl replacing Bobby Womack as the soul brother for "Want of a Nail" – wouldn't that be something? Also, maybe switch "Hello It's Me" to the encore shift... Daryl could have fun with that one, just like on Back to the Bars. But it sure was fun on old Cape Cod.

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8/24/2005 - Cape Cod Melody Tent - Hyannis, MA

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