New Cars Impressions (show spoilers)

Review by Michael MacLauchlan (Switch to

Thanks to those who encouraged me to go, it was the right thing to do.

After a brief nap ;-) I took the 25-minute drive to Coors Amphitheatre (it used to be called Fiddler’s Green) located in southeast suburban Denver. The outdoor venue is modern and surrounded by low-rise office buildings that were built during the ‘Denver Tech’ boom of the 80’s and 90’s. There is loads of green space between sleek buildings, there are no residences, billboards or overhead wires for miles. I pulled into a great street parking space just a few steps away from the main entrance. To save a thousand words, here are pictures of the venue in the daytime:

The rain was very light, hardly noticeable: stars and a crescent moon were out by mid-show and the temps in the low 60s. So my blanket, umbrella and rain suit (yes, matching jacket and pants both in bright green) were mercifully-for the other fans- not needed.

From the HOB web site I read the venue holds a maximum of 16,823. 6.8K assigned seating near the stage, and 10K of open lawn seating in the rear. Ringo’s All Star Band (after TR had dropped out from that tour -much to my chagrin) and Crosby Stills and Nash were two other show that I had seen there over the past 5 or 6 years. Bands will use Coors Amphitheatre if Red Rocks is too large or unavailable. (Nine Inch Nails played at Red Rocks the same night).

To my surprise a scalper just outside the box office approached me. I was offered the $20 lawn ticket for $10 or a $75, fifth-row ticket for $20. I splurged. (There were actually two rows of folding chairs in front of the first formal row so I was technically 7 rows back. Perhaps the folding chairs were for the VIP packages?) I found myself stage right (Elliot E’s side in front of a bank of speakers) – my ears are still very numb. I should have bought/brought earplugs. This was a loud show. (From the seating chart on the above link, I was in row EEE, section 103).

I arrived entre’ acts – about 8:30 or so and missed Blondie completely. I found my seat, greeted the fans next to my right and noticed 10 or so seats to my left were not filled (that changed after the show started as the ‘lawn people’ ;-) invaded the empty spaces). I’m guessing the show was about 65 to 75% filled – surprising on a cool, rain-threatening night. Could there have really been 8 to 10 thousand people there? Seems like too many, yet when the lights came on, I turned my head and looked: the venue appeared to be almost full perhaps with some generous space between lawn-seated fans but not much free space in the assigned seats.

The band came out looking fit and read to go after a 2-day break. The crowd stood up as the first notes were played. The set list contained no surprises and each song was greeted warmly. Only Kasim’s beautifully rendered “Drive” was used as feet-and-back break time: the audience used this slower tempo song to rest and sit for a few minutes.

There must have been multitudes of Todd fans. They were dancing and swaying in the seats to Bang, Open My Eyes, ISTL. Some awe was expressed during Black Maria. The Cars hits came one after another from this well rehearsed band. Without breaks or much stage banter, the New Cars played and played. The Cars hit cause fans to literally dance in the aisles. It was an energetic show indeed. All the songs, including TR’s, were played with new life, the 5-piece band gave a wall of sound that shook and thumped the body. One surprising number was “Bang”. The Ukulele version with 3 part harmonies, transformed into the CD version, that was different and actually fun. Elliot E’s guitar solos were very credible: an amazing performance. Greg H’s synths too were fun and filled the Cars songs with a sense of 80’s nostalgia. Sonically, TR’s, Prairie’s and Kasim’s sounds were a perfect blend. I always enjoy when the band members give little, knowing smiles to each other on a (rare) miscue or missed note – it adds to the fun.

There were two cameramen filming. I think they were only simulcasting the show for venue’s single big screen and not there to record the show for later use – but who knows… I wonder what gets archived for future use. How many soundboard recordings exist that never get released?

During the single encore TR sported a blue painted new guitar (See Tom Lawrence photo above link). The painting drew heavily from the artwork of the “TR’s Utopia” album cover down to the all seeing-eye just behind the guitar’s tailpiece.

The set design and lighting you’ve probably seen (or will see with all of the cell phone cameras recording the shows in low-fi snippets). Giant classic chrome hubcaps were suspended high above. Videos and still pictures of cars, traffic, stereos, and blackberries were displayed on drum-like skins that filled the center of the hanging hubcaps. Very fun.

I can’t help but think that this is the largest publicity TR (and the band) has ever had. He’s playing at large and filled venues, getting two-page color spreads in local papers, he is heard on the radio and getting more Internet exposure. I don’t think I have personally seen TR play to such a large crowd since 1974’s Central Park show. Perhaps arena rock is in his future (again).

Other reviews for The New Cars
5/30/2006 - Coors Amphitheatre - Englewood, CO

Other reviews for overall The New Cars

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