The Palace Theatre was nice, certainly an upgrade from the Rex where Todd usually plays when in the Pittsburgh area (someone told me The Rex closed). My only complaints were that we couldn't bring any beverages to our seats and Bubba, the overzealous security mound of flesh & fat. He ruled his roost with significant authority, making sure us unruly Todd fans stayed in line. Actually, this was one of the quietest, most laid back crowds I've ever seen at a Todd show. Outside of a few yelps here and there, you could hear a pin drop between most songs. Very odd.
The Johnson songs were good. Straight ahead blues rock more in the vein of the skinny British white boys Beck, Clapton & Page as Todd stated. The best part of the songs were that they showcased Todd's lead guitar playing. We got a heavy dose of Todd's new Telecaster, Butters which was a good thing. The Johnson tunes seem to bog down the show a bit in the middle (Sweet Home Chicago), but the up-tempo Riverside and Crossroads brought everyone back and were appropriate tunes to end the set.
As for Todd's own tunes, we got good but standard versions of Soul Brother, Black Maria, Open My Eyes, #1 LCD, and Weakness. I will say that Kaz's backing vox on Weakness were nice though. Mystified/Broke Down & Busted were reminiscent of the version played in the mid 90's and pre-Arena tours. I was craving a Hamster Smoothie for some reason.
The stand-out tunes for me were ones I had never seen live plus a few other gems. Hearing a Nazz song is always a treat and Kiddie Boy fit perfectly on the set list. Unloved Children was another great choice and was one of the hottest tunes of the night. The jazzy version of Born to Synthesize was last heard (I believe) during the With A Twist tour and was an extremely welcome addition to this set list. The ultimate highlight of the set was the trippy, moody I Went to The Mirror. That was a wow Todd moment for me.
I found the encores to be enjoyable but maybe a bit strange. I Saw the Light just didn't seem to fit for me. What it did though was get the very subdued crowd on their feet which was desperately needed. Unfortunately, Tiny Demons slowed the positive crowd momentum when most everyone sat back down again. I loved the band version of Tiny Demons and think it fit the show. I might have swapped Unloved Children with it though and kept the up-tempo thing going throughout the encores. Not to fear though, Boogies got everyone back. While it didn't start as frantically as I expected, it quickly picked up speed and made for a rip-roarin' final song.
If you're a die-hard like me though, you long to hear Todd music that he's rarely/never played live before. We got a healthy dose of that which was worth the price of admission alone. Regardless if you are into the Johnson stuff or not, this is a must-see tour. I found having TR's Johnson in my face for a couple of hours to be a very enjoyable experience.