To say this show was hard would be a huge understatement. When the softest two songs played all night were “I Saw the Light” with its juicy guitar solo and the soul-feeding “Just One Victory” featuring one of Todd’s signature guitar solos at the end of that masterpiece, it is safe to say this concert felt more like a metal show than a Carole King show. The band brought their “A-Game” as well. I have to confess; my choice for drummer would have been Trey Sabatelli and I was disappointed not to see Kasim. Boy was I wrong; Prairie sounded like Keith Moon last night—he was that good! Rachel is fantastic as well. As for Mini-Me, a.k.a. Jesse Gress, he was smokin’ as usual. The surprise of the band was some young kid named Matt Bouldin (I think that’s what Todd said his name is), and I am sorry to say I know absolutely nothing about this kid unless he is the basketball player for Gonzaga University (he actually looks a lot like that kid). What was awesome was to see this young guy having so much fun playing with Todd. This kid had a non-stop smile on his face and brought a lot of much needed enthusiasm and energy to the show.
As good as the band was last night, the Wizard and True Star brought his grandiose stage presence, his steady guitar hands, his powerful voice, and his witty sense of humor to Austin. Todd has a nice following in Austin, so I fully expected him to be in good spirits. I read a review of a show a while back where somebody blasted Todd for “playing angry” and I hope that person reads this review because Todd played with heart, energy, and passion last night. The guitar work was as clean as I have seen from him since the tour with Sabatelli and Kasim that resulted in my favorite TR DVD, “Live in San Francisco.” Too many people only know Todd for “Bang the Drum,” or for “Hello, It’s Me” or for “Can We Still Be Friends,” and those songs are all classics (well, maybe not BTD), but when they hear this new album, people are going to be shocked at how well Todd can rock. In a recent interview, Todd described the new material as “good, ol’ fist-pumping rock and roll.” Man, he was correct. The new material has power chords, lightning fast changes, salty solos, soulful vocals, and a few of the new songs have a slight hint of def metal. “Refreshing” is the only word that comes to my mind. For anybody who has ever questioned Todd’s ability to rock-out or play guitar, their attitudes will change forever once they see this tour and buy this album.
As a life-long Todd fan, I have truly enjoyed the different types of musical genres Todd has tinkered with throughout his majestic career. However, Todd’s strengths have always been rooted in his guitar playing, singing, and his ballads. He seems to have placed the ballads on the back burner for this new record, but he has totally returned to his roots and to, what I believe to be, his strengths. I have never lost faith with Todd even through some of his worst experiments with music, but it has been a really long time since I left a Todd show saying “Todd is Godd.” That was until last night. Todd, I think I speak for your contingent of true fans when I say we love you. Keep doing what you do and we will keep coming back for it. See you all in Houston tomorrow night!