Ronnie Scott's 2nd show Saturday 8th October
Review by Lindsay McMurdo (Switch to
From the sublime to the ridiculous - that's about the only way to describe the contrast between OH's magnificent, moving show at the Jazz Cafe last Tuesday and Saturday night's complete train wreck at Ronnie Scott's. No-one expected or even wanted a re-run of the Jazz Cafe shows - and of course the guy's entitled to play whatever he likes - but the second show at Ronnie Scott's felt like watching a Todd Rundgren impersonator and some mates standing up in a local bar. The set combined turgid cover versions of Robert Johnson songs (Todd just has NO affinity with this music whatsoever) with dusted-down versions of ancient stuff like Open My Eyes (fair enough - a bit like the first half of the Arena shows), plus a few bona fide classics knocked out in a pretty perfunctory manner. But he band hasn't played most of this stuff for over a year and man, did it show. The real problem though was with OH himself. Basically, and I should know, he was drunk. Not falling-down drunk, but a long way from sober. The voice and singing was strained, the guitar playing sloppy, the banter was boorish and embarrassing where normally he's funny as hell. Loads of folk left before the end. It was an utter shambles. At one point they started the soul medley and simply abandoned it half-way through the second song - WTF?
I've seen Todd about a dozen times right back to The Venue in 1978, most times he's fantastic, sometimes not so great, but he's always there, you know? For the first time on Saturday, he looked old and knackered on stage - and he just didn't give a damn. The fact it was the last show of the tour is simply no excuse.
Todd is always saying that he's lucky to have an audience that will turn out to see more or less whatever he does. That needn't last forever, and on the evidence of Saturday night not for much longer. I for one will think twice before shelling out £50 again to watch Rundgren sabotage his own (vast) talent in such a casual, uncaring manner. Someone needs to have a word. Todd, we love you man - play what you like, but lose the f***ing vodka! We deserve better.
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10/08/2011 - Ronnie Scott's - London, UK
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