This was my first trip to the Madison. The venue was nice enough and the parking was good as was the acoustics of this old theater. I am a native born Kentuckian and understand the importance of tobacco in the Blue Grass State but I will have to think twice before enduring that smoke-choked place again to see Todd or anyone else there. Makes me glad Ohio banned smoking in public places. (sorry,smokers!)
George Hertzel was a pretty darn good as an opener. He is a gifted player, songwriter and singer. His sideman, Todd, looked enough like TR to be a brother or first cousin at least. George could be a sideman for Todd cutting loose with his Roger Powell-like riffs on his low slung synth.
The opening brought us all in and TR promised a trip though the eras of music, “The Mesozoic, the Paleozoic…” and he delivered. They just slammed Black Maria, hands down the best I’ve ever seen and heard. Open My Eyes and the opening Love In Action just flat rocked. After the classics the band tore right into Arena playing with great vigor, intensity and skill.
I learned to like a few songs better like Panic and Pissin’ and really love Today, Courage and now feel Bardo. The harmonies were excellent made so much more so by having Kaz in top voice. This is one of Todd’s greatest albums. It is a collection of deeply spiritual and musically divers songs rich in wonderfully polyphonic and rhythmically engaging chords, harmonies and beats. Did I mention that they rock the hell out of all of this stuff?
Jesse was dancing and rocking his ax providing some high-level shreaddige and tight accompaniment for TR and crew. He is so great and always seems happy to be out playing.
Rachel was much more comfortable with her role and stepped back and rock on that bass, danced a bit and smiled her beautiful smile and even blew some kisses out to the crowd. Many in attendance voiced their love for Rachel and it is well deserved.
Prairie is such an immaculate drummer! He drove that sound all around and brought it home. I never tire of watching him play. So much percussion from just a few drums!
Kaz had a superb night. His voice was clear and bright and cut through the sound like a white hot light during Trapped. He is an exceptional musician in every way. His harmonies with TR are just so …right. He played keyboards and guitars and lent his presence and energy to the mix that went so well. I watched, flabbergasted as he tuned his guitar while directing a roadie and singing at the same time. Try that, Jonas Brothers!
Todd was a good as I’ve ever seen him. His playing was hot and energized. He cut up with the crowd, danced, shredded and sang with such soul, power and clarity reminding us that it’s ok to know the answer and today’s the day. Heck, we even got a kick line in CIJTY and an always tasty Just One Victory! Thanks, Todd, Kaz, Prairie, Jesse and Rachel. If you haven’t got a copy of Arena, get one and if this show happens near you, go! It’ll heal your heart.