Neither show has disappointed and I've been fortunate enough to see both.
This is the second leg of Arena and Seattle was the first stop. I was curious about 2 things – the set list and the addition of Kas on guitar and keys.
The set list was nearly identical to the earlier Arena tour….a few great tunes from TR's older catalog, some unnecessary (but well performed) covers, followed by Arena from front to back, and then the sweet closing of the night with Couldn't I Just Tell You and Just One Victory.
The band seems to have benefited from having a couple of weeks off. And they're much tighter than the last time they were in Seattle.
This band plays Arena like they've been doing it all of their life. The music and arrangements were tight. The vocals were spot on - Very full and approaching anything I've heard Utopia do – recorded or live.
Strong, tight musicianship all around - especially Todd and Jesse. These 2 were on fire! Thanks goes to Todd for letting Jesse stand out and solo this time around. Jesse is so amazing. How he gets those textures out of a guitar will forever mystify me. He also turned in some of the sweetest sounds of the night including a brilliant 2 part moving harmony guitar solo. I wish I could remember what song it was on.
Rachel played solid bass but there was a definite lack of emotional connection with the rest of the band at times. She seems to be in her own world. She held her own musically but I would've liked to see more interaction and joy coming from her. She's such a great player.
Prairie, as always, the consummate backbone. This guy never dropped a beat or faltered once. Fun to watch too.
It was a bit disconcerting after so many years of seeing Kas up front to see him in the back row. In spite of that Kas turned in some very nice vocals and keys but I'm not sure why there's a need for any more guitar than TR and Jesse. I'd love to hear him play more keys. That growling Hammond sound is well placed in Arena.
Todd was in top form. Vocally and on guitar he's at the height of his game right now. Pretty amazing too at 60! His playing –especially when launching into a fiery solo is so inspired.
I love seeing this version of Todd. He's moving in the right direction, having the solo tour days well behind him. He's meant to play guitar master right now - with this group.
We're lucky to have Todd. Most of his generation of rock stars have retired, died, or gone the way of the oldies casino tours. Not Todd. He continues to show no sign of compromise and continues to create and perform some of the best and most challenging music out there today.
Don't miss this tour. And if you're lucky like Seattle is to have Todd come around a second time, by all means see it again.