Toddstock Anniversary Party / TR Pre-Birthday Bash in L.A.

Review by David Portney (Switch to

Okay, so it wasn't *really* a Toddstock anniversary/reunion... And come to think of it, it wasn't *really* TR's pre-birthday bash either.

But! The many shout outs (including ours) of "Happy Birthday Todd!" (ours included "Monday" at the end... But I digress ;-) would make you think it WAS the pre-b/day bash.

And the numerous Toddstockers/stalkers (hmm, I think the latter spelling just might be more appropriate for some folks... You know who you are! ;-) there, plus the fact that it's one year to the week since Toddstock gave the night that overall feel.

As John Baker noted in his review, Todd and crew have got Arena down, are more familiar and comfy with the whole set than early in the tour, and it was a very, very good performance.

John mentioned in his review about the show - "without a single technical glitch in the entire show" - but that's not entirely true; and that's one of the *problems* with me being a guitar player and musician myself - I see the little glitches others might not. It's part of the training! ;-)

But the fact that (as TR put it) Prairie's "powerful drumming" (and it is!) knocked TR's wireless receiver for his axe (guitar, sorry... Musician thing.... ;-) off the stage right before or at the beginning of "Strike" and so TR had no guitar sound during the whole song, but he pantomimed the entire thing - I suspect in case his sound came back, that's what I would have done too (and have done) - but after Strike ended, the tech finally discovered and corrected the problem.

After Strike ended, TR said "That's the best I ever played that song!" - but I wonder if he actually said "That's the best I NEVER played that song!"

Since TR's guitar was out, Jesse took the solo at TR's direction first at Kasim, but then to Jesse who was primed and ready to do it - and anyone who has read my previous reviews knows what high regard I have for Jesse - the solo was flawless and note-for-note, but with Jesse's inimitable style.

Other small glitches were a few missteps in lyrics by TR here or there, but believe me, that's no criticism, just an observation. Those minor glitches mean nothing.

A couple of other notes on the show - and without unnecessarily repeating what John Baker already wrote (read his review):

One of the truly cute and even laugh-out-loud-it-was-so-cute moments was after the Utopia kick/can-can in "Couldn't I Just Tell You" after Rachael was a little out of step (but was very cute about it)...

...Kasim then, as the chorus after the can-can started, was at his microphone about to sing his line when he bolted over to Rachael's mic and sang more at her face than into the mic:

Couldn't I just tell you the way I feel? I can't keep it bottled up inside. And could we pretend that it's no big deal? And that there's really nothing left to hide?

The look on Kasim and Rachael's faces as they sang those lines - especially Kasim - was just cute and amusing beyond description (and makes me wonder, you know? You know?? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge - say no more, eh?)

Tracy and I can't think of other things to really point out about the show, but I will add that the addition of Kasim on vocals has made all the difference in the world on the backup vocals for all the songs, and in this case especially the Arena songs.

For example, you know the first chorus of "Mad" where there's that little break with the backups standing out and then the music kicks back in with Todd singing "I'm mad!"?--lots of places like that in backup vocals of the various Arena songs really came to life thanks to Kasim's very strong (and somehow almost never, ever off key!) voice.

Oh - and Jesse-the-guitar-genius was doing some really great stuff on "Black and White".

I don't mean to be overly-picky, but I'm not convinced that Rachael has the chops vocally or on her bass to really stand up to the rest of the musicians (sorry Rachael!) especially in context of past Rundgren and/or Utopia shows where the norm has been dazzing and even bafflingly great musicianship - but frankly, given that the Arena feel and rock songs in general should be at least a little rough around the edges / not-necessarily-technically-perfect, she works just fine, but really in my opinion only just fine.

Thanks to Todd and crew for yet another terrific memory! And thanks to all the fun fans we talked to and didn't talk to.


David & Tracy

PS: people, People, PEOPLE!!: at the end of the show during Just One Victory, singing at the top of your lungs "give us the will" and "show us the way" and ALL of the "hold that line..." lyrics is not optional, it's MANDATORY! Sheesh, c'mon people, get your trip together! ;-)

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6/19/2009 - Club Nokia - Los Angeles, CA

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