Guitar Todd is back again...and he's got plenty of edge!
I've been reading the reviews of this tour in eager anticipation of TR's return to the NW - Some good and some bad. Todd fans don't really lack opinions. Some of the less than positive reviews have focused on Todd's rants. What the hell? By now, we all know he goes off sometimes. Get over it!
I've puzzled for years over how this guy can sing about the complexities and pureness of love and then go into a rant that could probably singe Simon Cowell’s armpit hairs.
Todd's an enigma. I don't get that part about him. I never will. It got in my way of enjoying his music for quite a few years. Know what? It doesn't matter. Todd’s music has always stood on its own. This concert and the new music are no exception. Todd's rants? I think he just likes to pull our chains sometimes. The other rants? Why does it matter?
Todd ripped into the set list that's already been posted on these pages. And he, along with the band, was in fine kick ass form. A couple of things happened early in the show that gave me pause. Todd completely fell ass over tea kettle when he tripped on his own amp. He just didn't see it as he was backing away from the mic to rip into a lead solo. (This happened in the 2nd or 3rd song of the night.) Man, the dude went down hard. Like when you go down so suddenly, no time is available to react. So Todd careened backwards over his amp and came to abrupt stop when his head hit Matt's keyboard. Ouch! Scary! He got up with some help from the guitar tech (toga guy) and briefly smiled... Shook it off and jumped back in....Dang, he's 60! At the end of the song he joked that he's launching this "Arena Rock thing" and hasn't got used to the fact that the stages aren't arena sized.
The other thing was that Todd's voice was sounding a bit shredded early on. It didn't last long so maybe he just needed to warm up.
The new Arena material....FRICKIN A! WINNER...WINNER...DING DING DING WINNER! I always approach new Todd material with a bit of hesitation. You know what a challenge it can be to go down a new road with him. I felt just a twinge of that hesitation going into this part of the show. No problems though. Just fasten your seatbelt and let yourself fall into the whirlpool of raw energy emanating from the stage. I didn't catch the titles so I can't tell you what I like best. There were a couple I liked more that others but there wasn't a dud in the bunch. This is good stuff...Damn its good! We heard some harmonies very reminiscent of Utopia. Lot's of Guitar. Make that loud guitar.... and one beautiful ballad. Philly soul vocal Todd....damn near brought tears to my eyes - the stunning beauty in Todd's voice when he goes that direction. Nobody else can come close to the feeling he can spin on a phrase. He called it the "girl moment" of the night. The man still has voice.
One more thing about the new material: When Todd announced that he was doing this ‘80’s inspired “Arena” album, I was worried that we’d get some watered down bullshit Motley Crue, AC/DC inspired crap.
No. We get Todd-stamped BIG rock. There is nothing cheap about Arena. I can't wait to get the studio version of it in my iPod.
Prairie - What can be said of this guy that hasn't been said already? He's the best backbone in the business. Solid and strong as always. Todd's lucky to have Prairie as a constant in his touring outfit. Prairie wore some weird Roman inspired outfit with shorts and leather forearm band things. Prairie is a walking piece of art.
Jessie - This guy is so amazing! He pulls sounds out of those 6 strings that are impossible. But Jessie gets short changed on this tour. Todd should really give this guy more room to shine. C'mon Todd!
Matt - Not really sure why he's here. I couldn't distinguish what he was playing. Mostly bar chords by the look of it. I think he's good but I couldn't really figure out his role or what he was bringing to the party.
Rachel - I was blown away. My guard was up when I found out that Todd had to do this tour with someone other that Kaz. I'll admit that I wasn't ready to like her much, but she won me over by the middle of the first song - even playing with a pick. She plays the bass how it should be played for Todd's music. She's got chops and she knows when to bring 'em out. And she knows when to relax and get the hell out of the way. Musically, she fits like a glove. But there wasn't a lot of performance connection with the others. She looked to Todd and Jessie (not Prairie though) for her cues and all. But there wasn't much emotional connection or stage chemistry there. It didn't affect the music in any way though. Curious....maybe she's shy or intimidated playing with a bunch of veterans who are all old enough to be her father.
She was fun to watch and seemed to be enjoying herself immensely. She is starting to loosen up and bounce around a bit.
I was close enough to see Rachel's facial reactions to Todd's dancing and general flailing. She had a wry, amused smile on her face at times watching Todd - like the first time you see a dog chase its tail. It occurs to me that most of the audience has probably seen Todd more times on average than Rachel has...Todd was well into his career before she was even born! What an interesting interview she will (hopefully) be for Rundgren Radio. Doug? You working on that?
And, Mother of God, Rachel can sing! She took the parts that Kaz normally would've. And dare I say, her voice blends even batter with Todd's than Kaz’s. She looks great too. Very cute...very sweet.
I know Kaz is like family. But if he were to ever part company with Todd, we couldn't do any better than to have Rachel on stage with Todd. I’d wager that Rachel will go on to other musical adventures with folks her own age soon after this tour. So, if for no other reason, go see this show just to see Rachel.
Todd spoke about us having a planet to save, "I don't care if you do it out of fear or do it out of anger. Just do it!" Nicely put Todd.
Lunatic Fringe - This band does an awesome job of the song. But it's a waste. Plug in almost anything out of Todd's vast catalog and you've just given the set list a massive upgrade.
The Wall Came Down - same as above.
Todd tried to count off a song by flexing his left butt cheek.... Prairie missed it. Todd gave Prairie grief about his rhythmic life revolving around Todd’s ass. Funny for those who saw it.
Surprisingly, "Just One Victory" was weak. And it didn't matter.
The band gave their all to Seattle for an incredible night. Don't under estimate this band and this senior citizen. Todd's just as vital as he ever was.
Go see this show.