TR at the Trabendo, Paris 20 novembre 2008

Review by Etsuko Iida (Switch to

It was about 6:20 p.m. when I arrived at the "Café de la Musique" where we fixed a meet up in Paris before the concert. "We", are a small community of Todd's fans in France. Hélios came to Paris just to seeing this only one night presentation of TR's Arena Tour in France, and Emilie from Toulouse, Dominique from Montpellier, Thierry from Marseille, and Jean-Luc, Patrick and myself who live in Paris, some of us had never seen any concert of Todd Rundgren before. Florence, who is parisienne too, who is Meat Loaf fan and she has her MySpace for the fans of Meat Loaf, she had to join us too. The meet up was at 6:30, so I was not late then. I saw them waiting for me the entrance of Café in the dark, they told me "Hey, Todd and Kasim have passed by around here! And it's just now". And they said Thierry followed them and he could get into the Trabendo while the rehearsal (or the sound check). So we got a table inside of the Café, waiting others. The Café de la musique is a chic place in the big parc, just a few steps from the metro station. We had a time to talk but after just one drink, we got out and headed to the Trabendo. Because the Parc is a quite wide, huge where the Trabendo or other venues like "le Tarmac (theater with bar & restaurant)" and "le Zenith (quite big, for Keane's kids that evening)" are "dotted" here and there. So it's quite difficult to find the venue in the evening, you can only see the red-neon lighting in the dark (It's just 5 - 6 minutes for walk to reach there). I saw Prairie and Rachel took a table over ours, they ordered and took some meals before the gig (an old French guy sitting next to her, tried to help them, explain what was there in Menu in French). We arrive at the Trabendo... Surprise! There were a lot of people (now it's 7:35 p.m) and they rushed into the venue for take a good place. Because I knew that Bonn or Milan, and a couple of Nordic Cities' gigs, there were not many audiences, but there were lots of audience in Paris.

By a chance, I had after-show passes (I got an e-mail of the passes a couple of days ago), it means I have to find them before the gig. So I went to the office for pick them up, but they didn't find my name. The girl (because she was younger) told me "Sorry, we can't do ANYTHING for you, Ma'am". Then, a man with a smokey-gray hat has appeared and she said "Good evening Mister Jean-Yves Labat, how are you?" Yes that gentleman, white haired and dressed chic was Mister Frog. He asked her his ticket and his after-show pass then he left. I gave up the idea of getting my pass (she looked at me like I was crazy) and entered.

Now it's 7:55 p.m. I didn't know there was an opening act in Paris but Eugene Francis Jr. was playing there. He played his songs and TR's cover "A Dream Goes On Forever". There were so many audience (young and younger, ex-younger). I know there was almost no advertising in Paris, I've never seen any posters in the metro or in cafés, just a few advertisings on the free papers, and there is an article of TR's Arena Tour on 'Le Mond' newspaper that morning (very good). But fans came to see him! I could find a place near the center stage (in front of TR's mike stand), there was two French in front of me. While we were waiting, the roadies or French staffs were working (to scotch taping, bringing the materials, etc), I remember one of the BGM was Dub (but I don't know who was, slightly Electro).

The show started at about 9 p.m. (so SueW, it was not 10 p.m, it's winter time now). Prairie appeared on the stage first shortly before Kasim, and other members followed (Rachel and Jesse). And Todd appeared. The Arena Rock show begun with "Love in Action", and this was the first time I saw Todd playing all time on guitar ("electronic" I mean). It seemed he had posed for photographers (for magazines or Trabendo, anyway for the official reasons) and for the fans with pleasure, and he was playing relaxed but heavily. The set-list was for this "Arena Tour", it was clear on the concept, the whole Trabendo became more than more hot, it seemed that the French audience loved this show. They didn't shout or scream a lot, but they were enthusiastic about Todd and 'polite' when they screamed, or I imagine we don't have many chance to see Todd in France, so they might have been stoned by Todd as if they were dreaming, so was I. The Call's "Walls came down" followed and "Brack Maria", "Open My Eyes" (I found it was funny, a little bit Slash Metal because of it's faster pace), "Lunatic Fringe" (of Red Rider, I was deadly waiting to listening this song with the band), and "I Saw the Light" slightly faster, and it was a nice choice to warm up the audience before the opening of the whole "Arena".

"Mad", I like very much this number particularly the beginning with the guitar riff and the moment when the drums and the base begin to juxtapose the vocal... but the white body 5-string base of Rachel didn't work well (Rachel gave the sign to the staff, I suppose she had to continue to play with it until "Afraid"--- Todd's lovely footsteps dancing was remarkable). "Mercenary" one of my favourites from Arena, I felt the venue has became so humid and hotter. The stage lighting was so hard, I was watching Todd's hair, sticked with sweat, fell down over his face, sooo sexy. Everybody was enjoying, swinging and almost jumping with the band, I found the two fans who were front of me, they became to be nervous and got out... How lucky I was (so as a lady fan who was beside me), we could slide into the first row (best place for develop my neck muscles)...!

The light got slightly down, so Todd could see the audience, he found me in front of him and whispered my name (I was so happy, in ecstasy). I like "Courage" too, a powerful pop tune, it sounds like it from 'Liars' album. And here comes the Blues number, "Weakness" (Todd imitated French accent for fun, like "Blooooz'ah" for 'Blues') : played slightly slower than the album version, it was another best track for me. "Strike", he needed our help or in other words, he talked about muscle-training, asked us raise our arms up like him, said "This way (he raised his right arm up), not this way (he stretched his arm out horizontally/in his right), so you raise up your arm when you hear 'Strike'!" So we followed his advice. Then "Pissin", "Bardo" (another best track for me, reminded me the Jimi Hendrix Experience of "Electric Ladyland" era) and "Mountaintop" ("the simple refrain works well" dixit TR), "Panic" (playing on the halation lighting), and they finished with "Manup" before the Encore.

(Some remarks) Todd quoted about "Arena" of "Arena Rock" concept, because the Trabendo is the small venue, 700 audiences maximums (data from their web site), dance floor typed but cozy and nice place (ideal for the electronic music & club events). And that night, they was Keane who played right next door of the Trabendo, at the Zenith (capacity : 6400 places, from the web site of the Cité de la musique).

Jesse Gress : I remember that he played a elephant guitar (Fernandes Zo-3) at the TR's birthday party at Hard Rock Café in Tokyo (so it might be in '95). He is a genius guitar player, I was wondering how he could play like this while jumping up and down on the stage... but my eyes were fixed on the another side of Todd... his bassist, the beautiful and brilliant Ms. Haden.

Rachel Haden: I fell in love with her and her base playing. She is tiny (a big contrast with tall Todd/1m90 or more, I guess... and their back to back play is one of the highlights on this Arena tour), her hand is small but playing so tight and singing soft and sweet, and her play style, kept rhythms with her head, slightly swinging left and right and her axe were almost fixed. Isn't she divine...

Kasim : It was the very first time that I saw him playing keyboards & guitar (and additional egg shaker?), he was so smiley and kind with fans. After the gig, he went to take his own marker (silver ink) to autograph on CD for his fans.

Prairie Prince : I admire him for a long time, because he's a excellent drummer and also a talented graphic artist.

Before the "encore" while we were waiting, I smelled smoking... After "Couldn't I Just Tell You" (we COULD sing with them... wow!), the audience was more close to the stage, I saw a kind of a mountain behind me, they tried to reach to the front. I heard someone said "What's the last one?" (looking for the set-list scotched under the TR's mike) or "Is it 'that one'?" and other replied "Yes, it 'IS'". I knew it would be the "One", but I just couldn't realize that all of us, we could listen JOV in Paris, France and we could sang together. The show's over, and we wait his next concert in France.

After the show, I could meet Todd and other members on the backstage and I had a wonderful moment. I met Jean-Yves Labat, I asked him what did he think about the concert, he said "It was fanny, I had not seen the 'concert of Rock' for a long time". I could talk with la belle Rachel (she came to Paris ten years ago, as a singer then. This time she could go out and see the city on her day off with the bandmates, they went to see the Opera House) and Prairie too (finally! He was so gentleman). Todd was so exhausted but so sweet. Just before he got in the car, I spilled his vodka glass (plastic) on the ground after taking some snapshots with him... I am so sorry...!

After I moved to France, Paris for living, I prayed and hoped every day and every time, for see Todd and his concerts where I have lived. I reached my dream a little in 2004 in London, one year later, it came to a real, there was 2 days concert in Paris but it was with Joe Jackson and Ethel (it was great, unforgettable, but I wanted to see his solo). This year we had a great concert of Todd where I am living. Thank you Todd, I am still a hermit in Paris and I wish I will see you soon. Merci.

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11/20/2008 - Paris, France - Trabendo

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