Nice crowd, good to see this gig introduced so many new people to this kinda hidden away place. Again Foamy was the guitar of choice, Todd tore off his inimitable leads again...and again I can't help but think that the LINE6 modeling amp is just a little too "digital" sounding , esp next to a good ol' fender amp. If only the sound guy would get Todd's guitar a little more prominent at times...But -- i do protest too much, .
Jesse once again proved encyclopaedic in his guitar knowledge..this is a sick man, and if you haven't heard his incredible efforts with Tony Levin's CDs of recent years..run and do so!!
As has been said over and over - this tour is showing that not only are tons of straight up guitar rockers that will make us all happy -- but keyboard heavy songs like HAWKING, SOUL BROTHER and more - work fine with this format. All I can hope is that they get back out on the road after their respective gabriel and new cars tours...(and a short break!)
Todd's vocals have been simply fantastic. We've all seen the less-than-rehearsed shows and seen him reach for notes with a not-so-ready set of vocal cords. But all that is in the past. Best of all is the singular way Todd is showing that one needs not depend on going out and doing a "jukebox of hits" (or even near-hits). He is doing the songs he wants to, and reminding us on the thread and connection between this set of gems. Damn, i wish they would take a set break and do two sets!! It's that good - and there are THAT many tunes that would work amazingly with a 4 piece. One also hopes that as Jerry gets more comfortable he will hit a little harder and play more aggressively -- if you really listen back that is a thread with all of Todd's drummers. I love Jerry but his style is a little laid back on some of the tunes....
I love that TR features the rap stuff , he took a LOT of heat for NWO and INDIVIDUALIST when then came out, I think they hold up great, some of the "sung" stuff on NWO like "property", "love thing" or "fever broke" are simply classic and I hope those resurface as well. But -- say what you will about rap -- it IS part of the fabricc of modern music -- and that may be Todd's greatest mastery -- weaving seamlessly and using elements of: prog-blues-pop-soul-hawaiian -dance music-electronics- country - hard rock - avant garde synth music, you name it. He just seems to be able to absorb ANY musical material and find a way to bring his voice to it. His skill with keeping things topical and timely with his never-over bearing and humorous commentary is incredible, only Gil Scott-Heron and Frank Zappa are in this league.
This band is here to "play" as Todd has pointed out onstage. No one has anything to prove or really worry about. And what music history onstage!!! We could play "Six Degrees of Todd's Band" all day!! Umm.. JERRY MAROTTA has toured with INDIGO GIRLS.. so has BRADY BLADE..his brother BRIAN BLADE toured with TONY LEVIN in SEAL's Band.... JERRY has played with STEVIE NICKS and HALL & OATES..TONY recorded with DARRYL HALL ...all these with a direct connect to TODD..........TONY LEVIN has played for years with ADRIAN BELEW... who was with BOWIE when ROGER POWELL of UTOPIA was there...JESSE GRESS played for years with bassist DAVE LARUE, who is also JOHN PETRUCCI''s bassist, JOHN did the 'liquid tension experiment" cds with TONY LEVIN... and the irony of playing with 3 guys from the Woodstock area is just too good, with Todd's rich history there..
Again -- if you're reading this I don't have to say it but --Don't miss this tour !! Travel, get there, make it a priority. Music is one of the only honest corners of reality left, for me personally in a tough time in my life these shows have been completely "Healing" and I am grateful. By some twist of fate I find myself today 3 hrs from my home.. after a family reunion, but 30 minutes from tonight's show!! Perfect!!
SET LIST - SAYREVILLE NJ
BUFFALO GRASS (again, wacky, wonderful left field opener!! beautiful
sentiment and song)
ISP (ironically , dated as there is wireless almost everywhere a rocker might be [backstage/airports/coffee shops])
BLACK MARIA (awesome guitar work..the band sounds huge)
SOUL BROTHER (another scathing commentary on the music marketing machine...)
MAMMON (great pre-song rap slagging religious insanity.....the lyrics make even more sense under BushCo Inc.)
FASCIST CHRIST (then a joke abt "buckle up NJ!! and don't text while you drive"!)
I SAW THE LIGHT (perfect SA version, verbatim, great guitar harmony section)
B&W (always politically timely...a simple message. Has anyone else noticed this song is lyrically a cousin to Rush's "Show Don't Tell"??)
LUNATIC FRINGE (yeah, Red Rider again. but -great timeless song, and real cool with this config)
#1LCD (a time machine...or is time just nonsense..?? power chords sound great, jerry kills on this one)
DRIVE (!! so good!! this song should've been the follow-up hit to "bang the drum")
TINY DEMONS (sublime, beautiful, haunting as always. Todd plays impeccably. this is why we harp when he doesn't!)
MYSTIFIED/BD &D (ahh.. the black sharecropper in him comes out again!! a little story about coming out this way (jersey shore) early on in his career to play the blues...more tasty, ripping guitar leads)
S.L.U.T (!!!) Like no other artist.. he can surprise you and reach into any corner of his catalog at any time. Truly amazing./ Again -- only Zappa comes to mind as another artist who - you NEVER know what might show up on any given tour...
WALLS CAME DOWN (the CALL classic, reminds us what a FAN of great music Todd is, remember - he did a radio show that RULED. Also a reminder of the special open-ness of 80s music)
ONE WORLD(spirited set closer, and oh so timely. we all sang out the chorus..man if only a song could heal the bullshit in the world today. But -- at least it reminds us all to live a little kinder, treat THE NEXT PERSON YOU ENCOUNTER like you are on 'one planet' with them. a consistent, amazing and heartfelt message that TR has always put out there
WW EPIPHANY (tony on STICK..this ruled!!)
KINDA OFF TOPIC COMMENTARY:
Let me take a minute to say i LOVE this venue from all several different perspectives, having basked in many, many shows here/worked here/played here (project/object, the music of frank zappa)..and tour managed here for Al Di Meola last fall. I say all this to emphasize that IMHO, STARLAND is simply one of the greatest venues from any angle - sightlines, sound, parking, courteous and efficient staff, gourmet chef/hospitality, logistics, security - everything!! I'm a little bummed out that it went recently from private ownership to part of the AEG conglomerate, but , I guess they are somewhat better that CC/Live Nation. Anyway -- we all need to find venues like this -anywhere -that DO IT RIGHT - and support them!! We are all "patrons of the arts" in a capitalist society that doesn't really fund such things. (Not a complaint - just stating fact) Kudos to these guys, who continually book one of the most diverse rosters in the USA. The bands, including this one, always seem to be having a great time, aided by the excellent surroundings...