Todd and crew ripped through Aspen last night with the fury of a Summer Monsoon....powerful, thunderous and deliberate.
However, as with all storms here, you'll find that those who are totally unprepared for what is befalling them have a completely different view of the event that someone who went out *expecting* to be caught *in the thick of it*.
This brings up something we've talked about before... and that's the MARKETING that often happens surrounding "Todd shows". *WE* as fans take the time to see what TR is up to and what he is offering on the current tour...but the casual listener of radio or reader of newspapers where the trumped up promotional/promoter-generated ads may show up are often led to believe that ALL TR does is 'greatest hits" shows. This was true (IMO) in Aspen last night as the BELLY UP website itself stated that this was gonna be "over 30 years of the hits you know and love"....and um...as I saw numerous couples walk in and sit quietly and cuddle with their glass of wine, I kept thinking to myself...Holy SHIT..are you in for a SURPRISE. I know WHY the venues and promoters do this...but wow...it doesn't seem fair on either side of the coin. (to TR or the fans)
Now the MEAT of it all...
The Belly Up is a funky place. You go downstairs from the street 2 levels..and enter the bar on the top level. Bar on left wall..full length..bar on back wall right..full length. (damn drunks) Wood decor, caberet type seating..with 2 levels stage left and 1 level stage right...then a 5 ft or so final drop to the dance floor. The stage is elevated 3 ft above the dance floor... and where we sat above the floor on the first level of tables on Jesse's side was perfectly eye level and 20 ft from the band. Great for pics...all of the heads were mostly below us. Photos adorn the walls of the entire establishment of previous performances as we heard the owner is a rich/eccnetric Jewish guy who loves to take pics of rock stars...so he owns this (and Solana, i believe) venue to fulfill that need.
No matter WHO owns it/what the story is...the sound at the Belly up last night was impeccable. I'll definitely be dropping over the hill more often to catch shows here...as it's SMALL and oh, so intimate. Vocals were crisp and clear..and there was a slight delay of some sort going on in the delivery that, to me, (uneducated but knows what sounds good as a mix/listener) seemed to thicken up some of the shrillness we heard @ the Vilar and that TR seems to pack into his geetar sound overall. Very nice. Loud..but very audible/discernable/dissectable. You woulda liked it.
The band was tight and met the challenge of an even TIGHTER stage head on...leaving some of the antics behind but bringing the full- force of the ARENA material to the forefront. Todd was still the usual ham...but everyone else was kept in their place fairly well by the limits of the stage. No butt bustin' tonight tho...act or no act. (he would have been in Prairie's lap had he gotten too wild)
They ripped through the first "set"...LIA was better tonight than in BC as the starter and you could hear the mix simply BLOSSOM right before your ears as TR's vocs and the instruments seperated out nicely as the tune went along. The vocs sounded very good...Black Maria was damn hot/a highlight here..as was ISTL...but yeah...I'm a pop sap so I always like hearing that one when it's performed with the proper sentiment and a measure of care as it was last night. (when he's tired of it, so am I) TR's voice was strained from time to time by the altitude and lack of oxygen @ 8000 ft...but you could tell he was having an easier time of it than he was @ BC two nights previously
Once again the highlights from the new material for me were Weakness and Courage...the latter delivered in big way by TR last night...as if there WERE 10K folks in attendance and not merely a few hundred. I'm still not enamored with Strike or Guns..but the crowd received them and well...OK...at least those in the crowd who were willing to accept the new material and who came ready to hear "Todd Rundgren" in whatever incarnation he has chosen us to see this go around...
As the Arena set ended, we moved down to the floor for CIJTY and JOV and joined in on the hand clap with the rest of the fans who knew what to do....
In the end, I think a high time in the old mountains was had by all....(or most, anyway!)