The second (& primary) segment of the show was the new album- "Arena" start to finish. I strongly advise anyone planning to attend one of these shows to familiarize themselves with this material. If you don't, you'll be a bit lost, and as Todd said to one xenophobic fan: "Sorry... I should have waited for you .....I've been following you around forever..." Well put, if I took it correctly.
The concert was good overall, perhaps half a dozen songs went great. TR was working, folks. Clearly, a little road-weary, but a strong performance throughout. The "Arena" songs contain a large percentage of flat-out screaming, (and screaming guitar) so I would say, in terms of Todd's vocal- it was a show of brute force. He hit all the notes, (many were not actual notes) and hit them hard. Perhaps as a result, there was less dynamics than I would have liked, but that seemed to be the whole point. Just flat-out rock. As a result "I Saw The Light" was completely out-of-context.
Todd's guitar playing: Fearless. Howling, shrieking, wailing, swingin for the fences -(in Nashville, no less!) Of all the nerve....
I did not take the time to write this review to slather sycophantic praise. It was not unbelievable, as several shows in the past have been. (The bar is impossibly high) The sound started out almost adequate, but ended up WAY TOO LOUD. Todd's vocal was not eq'd properly. Too much 1Khz,- (honk-y). The sound system was junk.
As for the band's performance, they sounded strong & well-rehearsed, but a little floppy in spots. Rachel Haden played solidly, excellent at times, but a little bit timid on a few numbers. (How tough it must be- standing next to Kasim Sultan!). Could've grooved a bit harder on certain songs-and I highly doubt the veterans were responsible.
As a sublime guitar accompanist, Jesse Gress is totally inspired. His Marshall amp was pointed directly at my head, yet his tone was very refreshing, and comfortable to listen to. Kasim's vocals were indispensable-but (again) his guitar was nowhere to be heard. Prairie Prince was either playing to a click, or is a freakish slave to the tempo.
I saw this lineup in Knoxville in October, and it seems to have lost a bit of luster this time. "Courage" just kind of sat there. Great song, but it just never got off the ground. Too bad- that's a track for the ages. "Weakness" was breathtaking. In fact, the whole album translated very nicely to the live medium.
Note to promoter: A sold-out show, yet I saw no local advertising whatsoever. Nada. Zero. Had the show been properly promoted, TR could have drawn a respectable showing at the Ryman Auditorium, (or the Opry) -venues much more becoming to an artist of his stature. Next time....OK?
Todd, if you (or your envoys) are reading this, would someone please take a towel & wipe off that filthy green strat? Maybe at least once before the show? Yuk!
Final Verdict: Worth the 40 bucks. Todd sang (& hollered) his butt off, & played very convincingly. Band was well rehearsed, solid, & needed a good nights' sleep. By the end of the show... so did I.
Thanks for coming to Nashville, Todd!
Troy Blaisdell- Nashville, Tennessee