Todd Rundgren, Ohio Theater, Cleveland, OH 7/9/11

Review by Roger Steel (Switch to

A picture perfect, sunny summer Saturday created a great pre-show vibe in Cleveland. Between this show, Jersey Boys next door, Sade & John Legend up the street and a Tribe game a few blocks away, Cleveland was buzzing with activity.

The venue was beautiful, in the classy vein of the Akron Civic albeit not quite as ornate. The Ohio Theater, in my opinion, was the problem with this show though. First, my "front row" seats ended up being 3rd row after they decided to add two more rows a month or so before the show and allowed scalpers to get their hands on the tickets. Both couples in front of us bought scalped tickets, one pair cost $260 and the other $300. So I got screwed out of my front row seats and they got screwed out of their money. No one won but the scalpers. But I digress.

Todd took the stage at about 8:20 in his too-tight blazer and Cleveland t-shirt. You could tell he was in his element in "the center of the universe" as he referred to Cleveland. "Real Man" & "Love of the Common Man" were lively with Todd doing a nice two-step in his bright gold kicks. The rest of the show moved along in similar fashion. Upbeat when it needed to be, more low-key during the mellow songs. The set was full of the faux false starts as we've seen all tour. The stage was huge, maybe too huge in that the band was buried way in the back. I'm used to Kas and Jesse more in the forefront and sort of missed that element. The sound system also left much to be desired. This isn't a small venue like say the Tralf. It takes a lot of wattage to effectively fill this space and it just didn't seem like the gear had the horsepower to do it.

Todd's voice was a bit raspy as he spoke to the crowd but you couldn't really tell he was still under the weather during the songs. He hit his notes and belted it out as if he were 100%. The crowd was appreciative and seemed well-behaved by my standards but apparently not by Playhouse Square's.

Security was a bit Gestapo-like. Heaven forbid that anyone got out of their seats. One rabid fan who will go nameless was dancing in a side aisle, not bothering or obstructing anyone. He was booted out of the theater after three songs. Even during encores when Todd encouraged fans to come stage-side, the goons did everything they could to prevent it. They were outnumbered and eventually lost but I did witness an ugly shouting match after the show between a security gorilla and a female fan. It created a bad vibe that wasn't really necessary.

Don't get me wrong, this was a fun show. I enjoyed it quite a bit but just don't think a theater setting for a tour like this makes sense. A smaller venue with better sound, no scalper involvement and the ability to be stage-side seems to be the way to go. My aging legs sometimes struggle at GA shows but at the end of the day, it's usually worth it. Mary Lou, please find a better place for Todd to play next time he's in Cleveland.

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