Todd Rundgren - The Forum, London

Review by John (Switch to

I’ve been to the Forum for a concert just once before – a warm up by the Who for one of their recent North American tours, and it’s a great venue. A standing floor and a seated balcony, its previous life as a cinema (or theatre) show clearly, with a high proscenium arch and clear sightlines from all parts of the floor area.

And a fairly powerful PA system too, if not a bit muddy in the crowd at front of stage it certainly got better when you stepped back a little.

As I came to the arena I was actually surprised and not a little impressed that touts were actually offering tickets for Todd R! Given that he is such a cult here, I simply hadn’t thought of him as a “toutable” artiste.

On to the show, and the sight of Todd up on stage strapped to an electric guitar for the whole show, throwing poses and crunching out riffs, chords and notes was simply great.

Another thing – who was the lady next to me with a head dress and false eyelashes like Todd was wearing in the early ‘70’s?

Another reviewer mentioned someone asking “how does he do it” at 60? I don’t know, but it was damn satisfying.

The show followed the set that has been posted before, lovely to hear those old familiar songs at last “done electric” – I was turned on to Todd one Friday evening 36 years ago when “I saw the light’s” curly guitar solo’s wafted out of my radio, and Open my eyes and I saw the light were just great treats.

The new album – the centre of the show – is great live With the solid bass playing of Rachel Haden – in fact, when she strapped on that Fender 5 string for the start of Arena it looked longer than she is, and I found myself wondering if she would be able to reach the end of the fret board. Otherwise she played a sparking blue bass, which looked like a Warwick bass to me. Sounded pretty good, too.

A note on Rachel – her sweet harmonies with Jesse and Kasim really enhanced the songs throughout the set. Lovely to see her mugging with Todd during one song. Another Who connection – her sister Petra has recorded an Acapella version of the entire Who sell Out album. It’s intriguingly - interesting to say the least!

Another reviewer commented on Strike being what AC/DC should be doing now – it is an incredibly AC/DC like track to be sure. Todd introduced the song as an audience participation song, encouraging us to use muscle groups other than those in the forearms “from all that texting” with appropriate hand gestures. So the audience needed little encouragement to pump the right arm up into the air and sing Strike at the appropriate times as requested by Todd.

I liked Todd’s intro too to Lunatic Fringe as being a song that was “one of those songs you saw hitch hiking along the road, and wondering where was the band who carried that song? So we gave it a ride”

All in all, just under two hours of a great electric band. We even had Todd whirling around and falling over into his stage speaker cabinet , temporarily halting proceedings while the cabinet stand was repaired and the cab set up.

Todd referred to Bang on the drum all day as being his accidental sports anthem, and suggested that he was going to try and get us to adopt Mountaintop as an anthem for the “beautiful game” saying that we “only had that Ole Ole Ole chant”! Then he spoilt the story by suggesting we all get into a scrum at the front, when everyone knows that the beautiful game is soccer, while it’s the great game rugby that gets into a scrum!

Kasim played great guitar, a sparkly silver les paul, and keyboards – he seemed to get on well with Rachel.

Unfortunately, just under two hours wasn’t enough – I would have loved another hour or two, with all of the wonderful songs from throughout his career that I have listened to - but maybe he’ll come over and do another tour to play those songs. Just thinking of a possible set list, where would he put Singring ......

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11/23/2008 - The Forum - London, UK

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