Review by David Portney (Switch to


I don't think I would've bought tickets to a Cars/New Cars show if it weren't for the fact that Todd was fronting the band - I like the Cars songs quite a bit and have their albums but never saw the original band either. Anyway, I'm a huge Todd fan but not a "Todd is Godd" person, even though I can't overstate the importance of his music in my life personally, and I also believe that his many talents are not as known as they should be and maybe some day will be - of course, we Todd fans know - songwriter, singer, producer, prolific artist, amazing guitar player, all of his firsts... you know the rest. I've seen Todd quite a few times since 1976 and have never really been disappointed, even though some shows were much better than others.


As other reviewers noted, Todd looks good, shed some pounds since the Liars tour, and sounds great on guitar and voice as usual. Good stage presence and having fun. The overall sound was a bit muddy, unfortunately, other reviewers noted that too and it was indeed obvious last night as some guitar work got buried (especially Todd's) and the songs didn't quite come across the way they would've if the sound was better.

The visuals were quite good (sorry about the blurry photos of the show), the drumhead-like screens were innovative and added to the fun. The set list was short but very satisfying. The Cars hits are fun songs, Todd's songs of course were my favorites, in particular Open My Eyes was really great, and it was a definite treat to hear I Saw The Light and especially Black Maria live. Cars song Moving In Stereo worked particularly well live, as did Kasim's excellent rendition of the bittersweet Drive. With Todd's pop sensibilities, the Cars tunes could easily have been his own, if you know what I mean, and he kind of made them his own while staying true to the originals yet he added his "Toddness" to it all and really, who else but Todd could've fit that bill so well. He seemed to enjoy himself quite a bit.

I'm pretty sure Todd broke a string right after they started I Saw The Light (I know what it's like when I've broken strings in the middle of a song live) and he immediately looked over at Elliot Easton several times smiling, unsuccessfully trying to get his attention - but then Todd started playing chord inversions with the remaining strings, and then on the double solo part, he managed a harmony that still worked very well; Todd is quite the musician. He changed guitars immediately after that song. At one point later on he laughed when he threw his guitar to a tech quite a distance and the guitar was live and when it bounced made the usual racket through the amps. And it was great to see and hear Kasim and Prairie, they did a superb job, and Elliot is quite a great guitar player - the keyboard player (I forgot his name) did a fine job too.

Generally, it was a very fun and a good show except for the muddy sound and I recommend going especially if you're a Todd fan.


Lucky enough to get backstage passes, I almost forgot and was out the door before my wife said "what about backstage?" so we headed back in and made our way back there. We were just kind of hanging around looking at people, when suddenly I realized Todd was standing about six feet away from me. Well, I'm not impressed by people in positions of fame, rank, title or authority, but I have to admit I've always said that Todd, due to my extreme respect and admiration, is the one person I would fall apart like a stupid drooling fan if I were to meet him.

However, I really didn't want to come across as an idiot fan, even though I AM, or at least kind of feel like, an idiot fan. I mean, I know this sounds stupid but as much as I wanted to gush about how great I think his work is, I've been on the other side of that myself and wanted to avoid drooling all over him or bowing down "I'm not worthy" in Wayne's world style. So I extended my hand and as we shook hands I said "thank you for doing what you do, I really appreciate all you've done" - but I'm not so sure it came across as the compliment I intended, and he was a little distracted at the same time. My wife brought an autograph sheet and he graciously signed Todd R 2006 with a larger R above.

We hung out a bit longer and although I was hesitant, my Wife was gently insistent that she take a couple of photos with me and Todd, so we approached him again and Todd was gracious about that and posed with me - photos attached.

Todd's demeanor backstage: Having never met him before, I was impressed that he was very down to earth as he chatted with various people, posed for pictures, etc. One older female fan later on seemed to kind of accost him in a way and his non verbals seemed to be indicating he was wanting to get away, which he did pretty quick. All throughout, he had no "airs" at all, and was just hanging out with the backstage crowd and fans while relaxing and unwinding after the show with a large can of beer similar to Fosters, and he was wearing a worn out T shirt with jeans and tennies. Todd comes across as a real guy, not phony and not a celebrity. No attitude except for good attitude.


What do you say to someone you idolize? Perhaps I should've drooled and gushed. Here I'm meeting the one person that I'd really like to meet, and I've got nothing to say... what SHOULD I say - "how's the wife & kids?" ... "you're the best thing since sliced bread, napkins and ice cream" ... "can I audition to play guitar in your next band?" ... "what is the craziest studio trick you used to create the sounds on A Treatise on Cosmic Fire?" ... "You're great and I love you, Todd..." ... "what's your views on Guantanamo?...." .....sheesh. So it was a little anti-climactic meeting Todd in a way (I think having lunch or dinner with the man would be more conducive to meaningful interaction than the backstage crush of the after show crowd) but I really treasure having had that "dream come true" of meeting Todd Rundgren, the unsung (pardon the pun) musical genius of our time. Unexpectedly, Todd reminded me of my big brother, he's the same size and height as my brother, and in person Todd's face actually bore some resemblance to my brother, and definitely Todd and my brother share the same easy social grace and charisma. "Idolize" is a strong word I suppose; however, I deeply admire Todd and appreciate so much for all he's done. Songs like "Real Man" and other great music of Todd's helped me get through tough times when my Dad died when I was 16, and his music was always there for me when I was on my own at 17 and in the ensuing 30 years since. Music can add so much richness to life, and his has added so much richness to mine, I only wish I could've communicated that better to him. Anyone who wants to share their experience or respond to mine please feel free to email me at


First, thanks to all who sent me emails sharing their experiences and thoughts and feelings about my review and comments. Much appreciation!

Last, here's something I wanted to include but left out - my first "Todd encounter": 30 years ago when I was 17 I saw Todd at the Roxy for the Back to the Bars tour in 1978. Me and 2 friends ended up sitting at the press photographer's table, of all places, simply because we (well, I) refused to leave it after it seemed there was no other seats in the whole place. Before the show, we overheard one of the female photographers saying "Todd who?--how did I get stuck on this crappy assignment, anyway?" - we just smirked. She became "Rundgrenized" - she got swept away and had a complete transformation - and we got a great laugh when at the end of the show she turned to me, grabbed my forearms and said "DO YOU HAVE TICKETS FOR THE NEXT SHOW??"

Anyway, right after that, Todd et al were exiting the stage and walking right by where we were: I suddenly said "Hey Todd" and he looked at me - realizing I had just captured his attention at the spur of the moment I had nothing to say so I waved and said "HI!!" - he waved back and said "HI!!" mirroring the same goofy teenage way I had said it... well, to my friends I was an instant celebrity - "HOLY CRAP - TODD RUNDGREN JUST SAID "HELLO IT'S ME" TO YOU!!!"

Funny how 30 years later, I still couldn't come up with anything more meaningful to say than what he's probably heard 8 billion times from loyal loving (gushing) fans...

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5/20/2006 - Gibson Amphitheatre - Universal City, CA

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