Grand Prairie Show

Review by Ian Bui (Switch to

Being a Cars fan long before becoming a Todd fan, I was looking forward to this (only) Texas stop with both anticipation and reservation, especially after reading so much about this gig. Since I never got to experience the original Cars live, I really don’t have anything to compare the New Cars’ live show to. But suffice to say these guys blew me away. At one point I thought we had tripped into a heavy metal concert (can you say “Black Maria”?) Elliott’s guitar playing was awe inspiring -- so precise, so expressive, so crisp. The Prairie/Kaz rhythm section truly took the old Cars tunes to a New level. Hawkes’ synth could use a better sound mix though, especially for his sax solo during “All Mixed Up”. Todd’s take on Candy-O was absolutely great; easily the highlight of the night for me. For some reason “Not Tonight” didn’t sound quite as energetic as the video version; however, a twenty-something couple sitting next to me were singing along to it, so I guess some folks have been paying attention. The bonus was to hear “Open My Eyes” live in the (one and only) encore. Then before you knew it, the party was over.

This being only the second show, there were predictably some glitches both technical and musical which I’m sure will be ironed out as the tour rages on. But overall the band showed that they’ve been practicing hard as a unit and really enjoy each other’s company. The stage set and lighting were quite cool. My wife, who barely knew any Cars or Blondie tunes and whose familiarity of Todd’s catalog is fairly limited compared to mine, thoroughly enjoyed both bands. She thought it was the most fun Todd gig she’d been to. She also commented on how much leaner Todd looked compared to last year’s tour, and what a fabulous outfit Prairie had on. (Women, what can I say...) To be fair, she also said that she’d try to find some Kaz CDs now, after hearing him sing two songs that night. There is hope for our Mr Sulton yet!

Standing in the beer line before the show I overheard one lady ask her companion, “Who IS this Todd Rundgren?” Sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? While there certainly were some Toddheads there -- judging by the T(odd)-shirts spotted, I suspect most in the audience either had no knowledge or have only heard his music marginally. This must’ve been especially true for the obviously clueless “reviewers” of the Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Dallas Morning News, who probably were expecting a Blondie Greatest Hits Parade and a certain Ocasek impersonator with some fill-in drummer and bassist trying to make a quick buck on an 80’s nostalgia act. Too bad for them, and so much the better for us. We can only hope and pray that the New Cars won’t skip our area should they decide to do another lap around the track.

Ian Bui, Dallas

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