Smoke from the California wildfires has been drifting around here for days and it really is rough on the voice, plus the air is insanely dry up here all the time. This is a huge difference from the moist embrace of the tropics and Todd's speaking voice was hoarse and scratchy. He was reaching for the water like a camel in the desert but, amazingly, his voice opened up like a flower and he was going places I hadn't heard him go for quite awhile. After Toddstock, I was wondering if OH was going to pull off this show, again and again. His singing was very, very strong last night and you could tell that he was enjoying the fact that his voice was cooperating. Like Todd said on Rundgren Radio, when his voice opens up, the show is a lot more enjoyable.
The joy was sooo evident and it led to all-out exuberance from OH. I would have anticipated a jaded audience in this flawed, cold and stiff resort. But to their credit, they responded with surprise and encouragement for OH and his new stuff. Even Todd seemed surprised. It was obvious that TR felt strong - nay invincible - and was flaunting his physical power. Yes!
The well-placed gems - I Saw the Light/Open My Eyes - seemed to calm everybody down - TR seemed concerned that although the show was not a trip down memory lane, he was tipping his hat to a few classic songs - and then in the Arena - a few styles - that are all Todd.
OH did take a spill, but it looked staged to me. When his guitar tech (dressed in a toga) ran out to help him up, TR heroically waved him off like a warrior would brush off a mere flesh wound to lead his men back into the fray and onto ultimate victory. Todd kept making cracks about the "mountain people." He waved off the oxygen from the side of the stage saying that, "We have three gigs in Colorado. If I can't make it through the first one, we'll never make it." TR was cracking the whip on the band a few times because they were going to record the following night's performance in Boulder and this was their last chance to get arrangements, vocals and stage maneuverings right. Todd was working with Prairie especially and kept pushing, pulling and kicking Rachel out of her comfort zone and onto the front of the stage. She played and looked fab but I don't think she would have looked up unless OH insisted.
Matt was crawling from his lair at the back of the stage and seemed to do the best he could with his limited parts. After all, you are probably not going to jump around like a jackrabbit unless you are delivering the blistering leads and vocals, yes? But he was well animated and you could tell that he took every part he was given and humped it. The two young people bring some welcome freshness to the scene. Nice. Prairie Prince always delivers. He was interacting more with the audience than with other members of the band. I love that guy, though, because he's one of the best in the biz.Jesse was cool and played some nice parts.
This band sounds very good now but still lacks stage chemistry. I can imagine that it can be daunting playing with an artist as flamboyant, effusive, driven and energetic as Todd. (Utopia did this to perfection). Todd's mighty power was enough to bring the others to the Mountaintop, but I can only imagine what it would be like for him to form a four-piece monster band ala Utopia where everyone sings like a bird, plays like a virtuoso and delivers it with insane ferocity that nearly matches Our Hero's.
When a kid is a shockingly good musician it's a novelty because they are a kid. When someone is sixty and they sing/play/and dance circles around everyone on the stage, in the audience and in the town, that could be a novelty, too. But, Todd is no novelty. He's just doing what he does best and that will never get old.