Once Todd & Crew took the stage in ATL, they put on what was easily one of the best TR shows among the 14 or 15 times I've seen him, which goes back to his Utopia tour in the fall of 1974. This was a show for the "purists" as he touched on many songs from his catalog of work, but skipped on the pop hits from the 70s that made him famous, although he did a beautiful job with "I Saw the Light." The guy sitting next to me was seeing Todd for the very first time, but his girlfriend was a long time Todd fan and we must have "high fived" at least a dozen times during the show as Todd played many of his "deep cuts" that kept bringing the audience to their feet. The guy kept commenting, "I've heard his radio hits, but I never knew the guy could rock!" Talk about an understatement!!! I think he was a converted Todd fan by the end of the show as he and his girlfriend were rocking and dancing throughout the night!
And the did I mention that the guys sounded fantastic? Earlier reviews after the Japan tour had me concerned that they might be a little ragged, but they were TIGHT, sounded incredible and I think they put on a much better show than when they performed last May in ATL. Todd's vocals were strong and the song selection was perfect for this tour as it allowed him to scream and rock, yet still hit the key notes on the slower songs. He played with his usual reckless abandon and precision and I can't say enough about Kasim, Jesse and Prairie. What incredible skill and showmanship from these guys! It's always a pleasure seeing Kasim on stage with Todd - either in Utopia, the New Cars or on this TR tour. Kasim's bass was driving without being overpowering and his background vocals and lead vocals on "Trapped" during the three-song encore were fantastic. Jesse is nothing short of amazing and showcased his incredible talent. He's a wonderful complement to Todd with solid rhythm and searing solos when called upon. As an "older" fan, I loved Willie Wilcox on the drums with Utopia, but I've seen Prairie Prince with Todd on four occasions and that guy is amazing on the skins. Prairie and Kasim laid down a strong beat and drove a solid rhythm all night.
This was the same set list as the show in May 2007, but without "I Hate My ISP." He opened with a searing version of "Buffalo Grass" and followed up with fan favorites such as "Black Mariah, Lowest Common Denominator, One World, Drive (my favorite of the evening), Mystified/Broke Down & Busted, SLUT and Tiny Demons." Newer songs that were nothing short of incredible included a crowd sing-along with "Fascist Christ," a dark and brooding version of "Mammon," and the super-funky "Soul Brother." Even without keyboards available for "Soul Brother," Jesse did a great job of keeping the funky rhythm rolling along, supported by a strong backbeat compliments of Kasim and Prairie. As he's done in previous shows on this tour, Todd covered The Call's "The Walls Came Down" and Red Ryder's "Lunatic Fringe," which were crowd pleasers and fit in nicely with the selections Todd picked out for this tour. After briefly leaving the stage, the guys came back with the soulful "Hawking," which allowed Todd to slow it down a little and showcase his great vocal range. They immediately jumped into a rousing rendition of "Trapped" with Kasim leading the way and finished the night with an incredibly powerful performance of "World Wide Epiphany" (probably my second-favorite song of the night).
The rapport that Todd had with the crowd was incredible. That's another thing that sets Todd apart from many other performers, is his connection with his fans. You can tell that after 35 years of touring, he still feeds off the energy from the crowd and gives back everything that the fans give him and the band. He told a few funny stories as he set up a few of his songs and had the capacity crowd in the palm of his hand all night. I can't say enough wonderful things about Todd, the band, and the night in general. It truly was a wonderful show and I can't wait for the next opportunity to see my all-time favorite artist when he rolls through ATL again.
Thanks Todd! Come back soon!!!