I skipped the previous LA shows because I was expecting to be underwhelmed. Many may remember me as “the jerk who called Todd out for his mediocre performance on his Joe Jackson show in San Diego.” That only proves I am an island of impartiality in this here sea of Todd Love.
I loved this show. The band rocked with inspiration. And Todd was steady at the helm, with a commanding performance that saw him in particularly good spirits. I was dreading the insertion of Todd tunes in the set, thinking it could break the momentum, especially during Bang on the Uke. It was great, though, with the transition from an intimate vibe to a bombastic slugfest that drove the song home. Also stellar were Open My Eyes, I Saw the Light, and Black Maria.
Which brings me to my only criticism. The sound was guitar-heavy! Hea-vy. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. But it was way too loud as well. I had to plug my ears just to hear certain nuances such as chord changes, pitch, and actual notes. (Most of the blame goes to the sound man, who did a horrible job reining the whole thing in.) Possibly related to the hugeness of the guitars is the fact that Greg Hawkes didn’t display much talent on the keyboard. Part of this rests with the fact that his hooks are fairly simple. I love the hooks, which make songs like Dangerous Type, Just What I Needed, etc. really shine. But there was the opportunity to fill out the sound elsewhere in the set, and he just didn’t deliver.
I wish there was more heat surrounding this tour. House of Blues was packed, which was great. But I have looked high and low for any reviews of this show outside of TR Connection. I have found none. I think part of the reason is the embarrassingly inept showing at the Joe shows.
But this performance has cleansed my palate of that experience. I wish I could see this show again.