7 February 2010
Todd Rundgren performs his most famous album completely
London - American producer, singer, guitar player and composer Todd Rundgren doesn't like to look back. He may have recorded a couple of influential records in the seventies, when he went on tour he did not intend to perform beautiful songs like I Saw the Light and Can we still be Friends in the versions his fans had been cherishing for years.
Since the nineties Rundgren is more interested in technological innovations than composing music. He still makes music, but it doesn't have the same impact as records like Something/Anything (1972) and A Wizard, A True Star (1973). To climb the stage to play his classical work more and more became utopia.
Nevertheless he is in Europe now for two performances and with a six-person band to perform his probably most difficult to play, but in any case most famous record A Wizard A True Star completely.
Saturday the show had its premiere in the London Hammersmith Apollo and tonight they will be in Amsterdam. In London three thousand had to endure the support act first: Todd Rundgren's Johnson.
This was Rundgren's own band to perform blues classics of Robert Johnson in a kinda old fashioned manner. Its intent was unclear, but it raised the excitement for the complete performance of A Wizard A True Star even more.
When the first sounds of the album (later made famous at the tune for the (Dutch) pop show Countdown) spread through the hall, it almost was liberating. The curtain dropped and there were six musicians in white and one person dresses as an astronaut. He sang the opening song International Feel. Hidden inside the astronaut suit was Rundgren and he sounded like we expected him to do.
A Wizard a True Star was well ahead of its time in 1973. The record is a collage of short fragments Rundgren made himself. Pieces of fairytale music, with references to Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are combined with pieces of symphonic and psychedelic rock, doo-wop and soul songs and followed by solo guitar pieces, later to be called hard rock.
Stimulating the senses
It is complicated to perform this senses stimulating experience live, but it proved to be possible after all. Rundgren even found the time to change into another dazzling costume after every song. Impressive was his performance as a bird in Zen Archer and his singing a soul medley in dazzling orange proved he still can sing beautifully.
The order of the songs was changed a little bit with good reason. The last song of side 1 proved to be a better final song. After this climax Rundgren returned one more time for his last song Just One Victory. This resulted in a ovation, but the hope for another beautiful song like I Saw the Light was idle. As it was it was more beautiful than expected already.