Todd in L.A.

Review by John Baker (Switch to

I've been attending Todd concerts for thirty plus years and I've seen Todd in his various incarnations over twenty times. Friday night at Club Nokia in L.A. easily ranks in the top three Todd concerts ever. This is my second Arena tour: I took my daughter to the Arena show in San Juan Capistrano last year, when the material was still relatively new (to the band and to the fans). This time, the fans, including me and my daughter, were familiar with material, and the band was much tighter and more comfortable together. And how great it was great to see and hear Kasim (Trapped). My daughter and I sat front and center in the lower level. When tickets went on sale on line at 10:00 a.m., I logged in at 10:01 a.m. and landed choice seats. So why do I rank this concert in the top three of all time?

For many reasons, starting with Todd's crisp vocals and clean guitar without a single technical glitch in the entire show. The addition of Kasim added strong back-up vocals and guitar / keyboards. Jesse is always excellent. Rachel was so much more comfortable and confident, both musically and with her stage presence. And Prairie Prince was spot on. The set list was expanded to include a few more oldies (since the San Juan concert) and the openers included Black and White, Black Mariah, Open My Eyes, Trapped, Love in Action, and "the second most requested song." The main entrée was, of course, the entire Arena album, and the encore was Couldn't I just Tell You and Just One Victory. Since I've had a year to listen to the Arena album, the main entrée was that much more enjoyable. I've really come to love all the Todd nuance in this excellent body of work.

Todd was in good humor and interacted with the crowd on multiple occasions. At one point, when someone kept shouting, "Happy Birthday Todd!", he shouted back, "Not yet!" It's hard to believe that Todd is turning 61 soon, but as I looked around at the crowd, I must admit it's true, we're all getting older. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how many of us old-timers brought our fan-children, who were at or nearing adulthood. My daughter, in her mid-twenties, is a fine representation of the next generation Todd head.

But as much as my daughter enjoys Todd's music (she grew up listening to him), she was completely enamored by Todd's opening act, Paul Freeman. Freeman was also the opening act when we saw Todd's Arena tour last year. During the intermission of both shows, we met and chatted with Freeman, whose music is fresh. His vocals are excellent and I fully expect to hear and see a lot more of Paul Freeman. My daughter expects to marry "the Welshman" and may have set up a lunch date with him.

Overall, this was one of the best Todd concerts I've seen. It's really difficult to rank them because I've enjoyed all of them, but for different reasons. This one was so good because of the strong new Arena music mixed with nostalgic Rundgren tunes. Add the accomplished band that included Kasim Sultan, a technically flawless show, and a decent venue, and you've got the perfect night of entertainment.

While watching Todd perform again, both my daughter and I got that feeling that we were truly watching greatness.

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

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