Beaver Creek, Colorado 7/13/08

Review by Z-man (Switch to

When this show was announced, I tried to decide on whether to go here, or wait to see if a Denver/Boulder show opened up. Since it happened on a Sunday night, I knew I'd have to miss work on Monday morning as I either slept in at the lodge we eventually stayed at (in Avon, where I've got a time-share), or slept in after driving down from the mountains back to Denver/Boulder. After some prodding from co-workers, I decided to make this work, and was quick enough to get front row tickets. I told my older son Joe (who was supposed to attend one of the Liars shows in '04 at this same venue, before it was cancelled) that I was going, and he let me know he wanted to go, too. It worked out for his schedule, so I got tickets, made reservations and got ready for a fun weekend.

After hanging out Saturday and playing catch (baseball) Sunday morning, we arrived in Beaver Creek about an hour before the doors opened. All was quiet, as I went to the box office to pick up my tickets they held at will-call. After I gave him his ticket, Joe went to walk around, while I stayed waiting to get to our seats. A short time before we were allowed downstairs to wait to enter the auditorium, I spotted a familar face I'd seen at several other Colorado Todd shows - Joann from Estes Park. Still on a high from Toddstock, she was eager to catch up with me, and I met her daughter, Jennifer, who I'd met a long time ago at another TR show in Boulder. I have always loved meeting other fans and sharing the stories, and I loved hearing about Toddstock from Joann.

We were let in at 7:35, and I got my seat, which happened to be next to Joann and Jennifer, right up front. I watched as the crowd made their way to their seats, and one face looked familiar, though his hair was too short...or so I thought. I'd later recognize it was Pat (aka "Cap'n Cantankerous" from the BeyondAwizard group on Yahoo, who also posted a review of this show). I had read some mixed reviews on the Todd Rundgren Connection (and the associated forums), so I didn't know what to expect. But Todd rarely disappoints me, and I kept an open mind as I waited for the band's arrival.

There was no opening act, so Todd and the band came out pretty much on time. I haven't seen the setlist posted with any one else's review, but it's basically the same as elsewhere - familiar songs, covers, then Arena in its entirety, and a few more familiar tunes as encores, ending with 'Just One Victory'. The Arena tracks were heavy, with Todd's assortment of clever hooks and thoughtful lyrics. My favorites were 'Weakness' and 'Courage', but 'Bardo' has a bluesy quality that grew on me. Mountaintop (quite appropriate for this show, probably the highest altitude of the tour), as Todd explained, is his attempt to actually write a song as a sports anthem, as 'Bang The Drum' has become over the years. It's catchy and beaty, so it just might work - maybe I'll send a copy of this album to the Colorado Avalanche for them to play at their games.

Other songs from the upcoming release sounded very good, and Todd was in a good mood. In the reviews from Portland and Seattle, it seems Todd was very sour on some issues with those venues, and it seemed to affect the performance. This show was the polar opposite.

The band seems to have gelled a bit since the reported shaky start. I can hear that Rachel isn't playing 'Just One Victory' the way more seasoned bass players played it, but I didn't find it unappealing. Your mileage may vary.

After the show, Joe decided to head back to the room, while I stayed to 'exhibit my fandom' by waiting with a few other rabid fans to say hello to TR and the band. While waiting, I did chat with 'Cap'n Cantankerous' a little, until he caught the attention of a security guard and asked him to let Jesse Gress know he was there. After a short time, Jesse arrived, hung out a few minutes as fans voiced their appreciation, and off he went, taking the Cap'n with him.

The fans waiting with me were awesome. I was happy to see Colorado TR concert veteran Tom, who always takes great pictures. Michael Mac was noticeably absent, having told me he was vacationing in Mexico this week. I gotta thank Bill and Staci for sharing their stories, and Bill's pen; Jeff and Brenda, who were up for the show from Arizona; The kind lady with her daughter, who Todd earlier kissed from the stage (she held up a sign about having gotten a kiss from him 20+ years ago); Joel; and David from Topeka. There were more fans I didn't get to meet, but it's great to see you all nonetheless.

After getting some dinner and relaxing post show, Todd eventually made his way out to see us. He remembered my nickname when I introduced myself, and seemed eager to get to each of us with autographs and photo ops. Todd laughed as I told him that my last photos - after the Joe Jackson show in Columbus, Ohio - turned out rather goofy, and he remarked that that was ancient history. He wound up signing the back of my poster for the upcoming '40 years' project "To the 'Z-ster!" I'll eventually get around to posting my photos when I get around to getting them developed to disc.

I returned to Boulder the next day, going straight to work rather than heading home. It's my busy season, and I knew I'd catch hell, especially since I would choose to leave early to meet up with Jeff and Brenda at the Boulder show. But that's part of my next review...

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7/13/2008 - Vilar Performing Arts Center - Beaver Creek, CO

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