Todd Rundgren The Forum 23 11 2008
Review by Andypandy (Switch to
Rundgren Rocks the Forum and shows his metal. The prince of power pop and his cohort took to the stage in front of a packed Forum to deliver a 2 hour tour de force of energizing rock. Tripping briefly down memory lane he and his 5 piece band romped through a handful of his ‘70s classics –Love in Action, the historic Black Maria, the pre-historic (Todd’s words) Open My Eyes from his ‘60s group ‘Nazz’, and the tuneful turntable hit ‘I Saw The Light’, before introducing the 'agenda' for the evening; Todd’s new elpee ARENA in its entirety. It’s characteristically uncompromising to devote his first London gig for 4 years to an entire new album but that’s Todd’s way so the crowd should have known better than to expect the perennial clutch of flowery ballads which were once his stock in trade. The new material affords Rundgren the chance to strut his stuff on stage (not for the first time falling flat on his backside) and the message is guitar (Todd), guitar (the superb Jesse Gress), guitar (the ever dependable Kasim Sulton), and more guitar (jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s bassist daughter Rachel) which the audience seemed to thoroughly appreciate, embracing Todd’s direction in several participation sessions... though at one point the sight of over 1000 fists punching the air in unison to the strains of ‘Strike While the Iron is Hot’ brought to mind a left wing Political rally. The13 song homage to ‘70s riffrock is powerful, accessible and fun. Rundgren is a magician with melody and his lyrical wit and engaging banter between songs are as disarming as ever. Todd live is phenomenal which seems at odds from a man some consider a knob twiddling hermit. Indeed he wrote, performed, recorded, and mixed the new disc on a laptop with vocals recorded in his linen cupboard at home in Hawaii. Encores of the power pop classic Couldn’t I Just Tell You and the ultimate, inspirational Rock anthem Just One Victory topped an exhilarating performance and sent the audience out into the cold Camden light with something to think and talk about, and the echoes of Rundgren’s wailing strat ringing in our ears.
We started off downstairs and I agree with reviewer John the clearest sound is halfway back but my young son was exhausted from the round trip to Norwich the previous night so we moved upstairs and found a seats behind Captain Sensible's double (or maybe he was the real thing?) who appeared not to be having such a good time, though the girl with him clearly was. The sound upstairs at the Forum is poor, with vocals lost in the echoey non-acoustics of this cavernous former cinema. It defeated Southside Jonnie when I was last there and last night sabotaged Todd’s vocals and instrumentally anything that wasn’t a bass! Next time stay downstairs even if it means standing. It’s worth the effort.
Finally it was good to meet fellow Toddheads, Pete and Pen in the pub beforehand since we had failed to connect in Norwich. We agreed Todd should bring this show to a major UK festival next year and expand awareness of one of rock's most enduring and endearing performers.
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11/23/2008 - The Forum - London, UK
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