Chicago 1/25/2008 Review

Review by Grady Moates (Switch to

The Park West was jumpin' tonight as Todd, Jesse, Kasim, and Prairie brought the 2008 winter guitar-rock tour to the Windy City. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of coming to this venue, the building was opened in the 1920s, when it mostly showed movies to a capacity of 1000. After some time, the theater became a burlesque house, and later a theater for adult films. In 1977, the theater was renamed to Park West, and it became a concert venue.

As movie theaters go, it was one of the BIG old ones, and is elegant in an edgy sort of way. Not quite the equal of the Pabst in Milwaukee for acoustics, it makes up for the longer reverberation time and resonances with lots of power in the amps and lots of surface area in the drivers in the speaker stacks. My friends, the Bobs, and I hung out near the Front of House mix position and had really good sound all night. One of the Bobs is an accomplished acoustician by trade, and was quite impressed with the wall treatments and other efforts to improve the sonics of the space.

Right after "I Hate My Frickin' ISP", Todd complimented the crowd for having bought into tickets for the evening's show early. Everyone loved it, 'cause the place had been sold out for more than a month and was packed to the gills. It was Standing Room Only for me and the Bobs, as well as close to 100 other folks who couldn't find seats.

The funniest thing TR said tonight was when he started talking about the difficulty the Republicans seemed to be having in fielding a Presidential candidate, and how Mitt Romney had flunked out as an astronaut, when he answered the trick question: "How many wives WOULD you have, if you COULD?" with "I wanna make the whole country my bitch!!"'

After TR broke a string much earlier in the show than usual, he warned us that a rumor was goin' around about there being a bad shipment of guitar strings in the house, so "anything can happen". Shortly after that, "Lunatic Fringe" was postponed in the set list so that foamy could be re-strung.

This packed house of mostly TR fanatics was losin' it all night long. . . and I was glad I could be here for it.

The encores were even more powerful tonight than at the earlier shows I've seen. . . "Hawking" was especially moving, Kasim's vocals on "Trapped" were as strong as the night I heard him sing it in California at the US Practice show for the "Utopia Redux" tour of Japan, and Worldwide Epiphany was overpoweringly compelling.

Even with a night off between Milwaukee and Chicago, Todd's voice was really showing the strain of deep-winter touring in the upper Midwest. There were several times when he didn't hit his normal high notes in the middle of lines, saving himself for the ends of verses and songs. However, his strategy of saving his voice for the most important places in the songs really paid off when he did "Hawking" in the encore. That delicate falsetto he has was simply scintillating. As much energy as he invests in each show, I still marvel at the robustness of his voice after all these shows over all these years, and I'm thankful that he's still out here doing them for us.

Only four more shows to go, and then it's winter hiatus for Todd, and shortly after that Kasim will be doing another run of his wonderful solo shows. I hear that there's a real surprise in store for us on Kas's winter tour, so plan to take one in if you can.

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1/25/2008 - Park West - Chicago, IL

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