I didn't think much more about it until 2 weeks before the show when my Todd friend Dan decided he wanted to sell his tickets because he had decided to go to the Philadelphia New Years Eve show. He was able to sell them back to the theater, so again that was that.
Then, on the Tuesday before the show, while chatting in the chatroom at RundgrenRadio.com (while listening to the Kasim Sulton interview), I jokingly posted that if anyone needed to sell a ticket … Turns out that Lois, who had volunteered to man the merchandise table, had tickets and as her husband was going to watch the merch while she watched the show, his ticket was available – front row, no less!
Now two more hurdles were still in front of me - the weather (a big storm was forecast for the day before the show) and my wife. The second hurdle proved easier than the first – my wife said I could go. By Thursday the weathermen were all saying the storm would move through Friday night – leaving lots of time to clear the roads by Saturday evening. So who believes weathermen these days? It snowed for most of my 3-1/2 hour drive, not heavy, but west of Springfield there as snow in the Mass Turnpike breakdown lanes and slushy piles between tire tracks and between the lanes.
Other than a pizza place, the only other thing in Norfolk besides the Infinity Hall theater is the Speckled Bird Pub & Restaurant – they even had a special "Todd Rundgren Concert Dinner Menu" for the show. I talked with a couple of people at the pub before heading into the theater.
The theater, about a year old, is beautiful with a display of great musician photographs and a large upstairs concert room, all wood paneling and stained glass windows.
Todd and band finally arrived on stage about 20 minutes late and when someone in the audience said "Todd you're late!" he replied that it was because the dressing rooms were in a different building! (Rachel came on stage wearing a hooded parka!) Later he joked about having to stay 20 miles away in "Teensy Town" (Torrington, we guessed). No doubt he and the band were wondering who booked them so far off the beaten track – but this turned out to be the first sell-out show this 300-seat theater had ever had – and they sold additional standing room tickets, as well.
Having heard many boots of Arena live shows as well as having listened to Arena countless times, I knew what to expect from this show, as did most of the people in the first row, but I could tell there were a lot of people in the place completely unfamiliar with the new music. Whether this was the reason, I can't say, but those of us in the front row repeatedly tried to get people up on their feet during and after songs – with absolutely no luck!
I had brought earplugs with me after hearing that many shows were extremely loud, but no doubt my proximity to center stage kept me away from the blasting PA speakers on either side. I noticed that the overall volume did go up a notch when the Arena songs started.
Some people have said they like the live versions of the Arena songs better than the all-Todd CD, but I think each has its string points. Last night, it was the backing vocals – Jess, Rachel and Kas hit those 3-part harmonies all night. And, of course, Prairie's drumming and Jesse's guitar work are non-paralleled.
The night ended with the usual two encores – Couldn't I Just Tell You and Just One Victory, and if none of the other songs had been really enjoyable (but they were), that last song would have made the show for me, taking me back over 25 years ago when Todd and/or Utopia would always end the show with it.