Woodstock/Bearsville Show 12/23/08

Review by Rick Bartz (Switch to

The Todd concert Tuesday night was fantastic. The packed house was, fortunately, all at my back as I procured a front and center location at the stage, directly in line with Todd's mic stand. Ah, heaven. Plenty of eye contact with the band and interaction, with Todd even repeating one of the comments I yelled out. Of course the mix is a little muddy up there, out of range of the house speakers, but the upside was hearing the stage amps and monitors clearly, no need for earplugs, and watching in detail a group of road-hardened professionals crank out one great rock tune after another. Todd was animated, in good holiday spirits, and focused on penetrating the deepest pleasure centers in my brain with the screaming high notes he coaxed out of the upper frets of his electrical guitar. Standing at the edge of the stage right over us, leaning back and tuned to the adulation of the crowd, he worked that sea green guitar of his into a frenzy over and over, ever so tastefully, ever so masterfully. I could have touched the end of his axe with my outstretched hand, but I merely floated my arms up there, feeling the cosmic breeze emanating from the our hero. I did get a hearty handshake at the end of the show, as Todd reached out and showed his appreciation.

What a gift to have Todd and the band back to the Bearsville Theater for the second time in six months. The show was fantastic, and standing right up front against the stage I was able to see all the inner workings of our favorite showmen. This time I knew all the Arena songs by heart and could savor every last drop of musical dexterity that Todd and the band could dish out. All the major guitar riffs, all the soaring harmonies, all the rich interplay that makes this the most satisfying Todd tour in years. Some of the rambling commentary poked fun at the movie Valkyrie "I'm sure after the show you'll all be getting out your overcoats and your beach chairs and getting in line for tickets to Valkyrie. Coming out on Christmas, and the lead actor's not even Christian? Does that make Hitler a Xenu, and Tom Cruise a Thetan?" And before Weakness, "Now we'd like to play a lullaby, one that you can play to your kids so they can get a few hours sleep on Christmas eve." The comment about still wiping off makeup from the previous night's Letterman Show appearance, then explaining how they wanted to teach the whole Letterman audience the fist pump to Strike, but were told no to do anything that would upset Dave. "yeah, like that leaves a lot of options" Then, after a smokin' version of Strike, Todd says in a sarcastic tone, "Are we getting Christmassy enough yet?"

Little observances:

Did Todd actually sing, at the beginning of Pissin', "I felt your neck on my breath hair"? I thought I saw Rachel look over and smile at that. I definitely saw her make a face at the line "now your dąck is in the mayonaise". How 'bout Kas, just before the high kicking part of "Couldn't I just Tell You" looking over at us and clearly saying, "I'm not doing this, it's so stupid". But with a smile, he got in line and did the rockette's thing. Water bottle lids were definitely flying back and forth between Prarie and Kas towards the end of the evening, and what part did Kas pinch on Rachel to make her jump during the final bow? I've come up with the idea the Todd's "Weakness" is his fans... us, and that is what keeps him going, writing these timeless songs and bringing his show to our town. When Todd introduced the band, I gave Rachel the "high pinky", and she reciprocated. She did a workman-like job with the bass guitar, even though she couldn't use her fret hand pinky. Somebody told me she smashed it in a window. I wish her speedy healing. Ah, Jesse, what can you say. His playing is so complimentary to Todd's, his solos are so acrobatic and he wrestles the densest wall of sound out of his guitars. And Prarie, hat pulled down low over his sunglasses, what a huge presence, his drums magnifying Arena without overwhelming. True professionals, the whole bunch.

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12/23/2008 - Bearsville Theater - Woodstock, NY

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