A great night of rock and blues in Sellersville, PA! Todd and the band completely tore it up on the Robert Johnson covers and on the unexpected selection of songs from Todd's back catalog ("Bleeding" for crying out loud!!). This was hands down the most impressive guitar playing I've ever seen from Todd, not to mention his stellar vocals as usual. I brought a friend, an incredible guitarist in his own right, who had never seen Todd before and he was blown away. It was cool seeing TR play a blonde Telecaster ("Butters") as a change of pace although "Foamy" was sounding particularly good last night as well -- despite the 2 or 3 broken strings. Fortunately his guitar strap stayed intact after he noticed an errant bolt or screw lying on the stage which was promptly tended to -- "just trying to avert a catastrophe...like a lost tile on the Space Shuttle".
Prairie and Kasim were of course rock solid although I would like to have seen Kasim share lead vocals on a tune (no "Trapped" for this tour -- not yet anyway). Jesse was his usual, incredible "Jeff Beck-ish" self and really shined with this style of music even though Todd seemed a little perturbed at him with some miscues throughout the night. In fact, he completely pulled the plug on "Bleeding" towards the end of the song on what I assume was a botched outro on Jesse's part? Can't really blame him as this was only the third show on the tour and it still didn't take away from the nostalgic treat of hearing that tune performed live (for the first time ever since 1971 perhaps?).
In addition to the many Robert Johnson tunes, "Mystified / Broke Down and Busted", "Open My Eyes", "Number 1 LCD", "Born to Synthesize", and a blistering "Black Maria" were all performed flawlessly. I was surprised there were not more tunes from Arena on the set list considering the focus on heavy guitars but we did get to hear a beautiful version of "Weakness". Besides all those, the biggest surprises of the night we're a rocked up version of the Nazz's "Kiddie Boy", "Unloved Children", "I Went to the Mirror", "Tiny Demons" and the lost gem "Boogies (Hamburger Hill)" which closed the show to a standing ovation! Overall this was way more than I expected -- anyone who passed on tickets or is not excited about seeing the Robert Johnson stuff, which alone was worth the price of admission, should reconsider as this may be the only time Todd will perform some of these classics again.
Perhaps the best part of the night was finding out from a fellow fan that the "Healing / Todd" show will be coming to Glenside, PA in September -- five minutes from my house!! Much easier than the seven hour road trip I took to Akron for the AWATS show!