Todd performed at the Variety Playhouse, a renovated movie theater in a funky little neighborhood, in front of a near-capacity of about 600 excited fans.
The crowd was very enthusiastic as many left their seats to take positions in an open area about 30 feet in front of the stage. This was my second Arena date, having seen this performance in Knoxville in November and again last night.
Paul Freeman was the opening act and is good performer. He only performed about six songs, but could have played longer as the crowd seemed to enjoy his brief set.
Many of the fans were familiar with Arena and responded enthusiastically to the Arena set. There were a few fans that were expecting more of Todd's "old favorites," and weren't familiar with the playlist, so most politely sat back and listened. Hopefully a few were impressed enough to pick up Arena CDs on the way out!
Todd and the band blazed through the selection of Todd/Utopia/Nazz favorites that have been played at the previous shows. I really enjoyed hearing "Black & White" again. It's a great song and a great way to open the show and get the audience fired up!
I've really enjoyed seeing the Arena tour on different dates. The CD is fantastic and the band executed the songs flawlessly. "Courage" and "Weakness" are my two favorites, but "Today" is easily the best song played live from Arena. "Strike" and "Mountaintop" also lend to a fun experience for the audience, besides just being great rock songs!
The band was nothing short of amazing. I felt they sounded much tighter and seemed more relaxed and enjoying themselves this time around. Todd's banter between songs was hilarious and had the audience eating out of his hands. Rachel was all smiles tonight and wore a plastic rose behind her ear that was handed to her by a fan before "Panic." Kasim seemed to be having a ball posing for pics and tossing out guitar picks. Jesse, was Jesse. I can't say enough good things about him. The guy is a consumate professional and adds a layer of sound to every song that is such an amazing complement to the arrangement. Prairie was a riot on "Trapped" during Kasim's intro and was on his game last night driving the rhythm section.
And Todd. What else is there to say? There are no words. Amazing as usual, a wonderful performer on so many levels. The glue that bonds us all together. We truly are fortunate that he's still bringing us such wonderful music and hopefully will be performing for many years to come!
A thread on one of the forum pages asked about volume levels for this tour. My wife and I were about 35 feet from the stage and although it was loud, it was tolerable and we did not experience any ringing in the ears the day after.
Anyway, great show Friday night. It really is great being a Todd fan!