I had been warned by a friend who had seen an "Unpredictable" show a couple years ago that it could be a disaster. He referred to it as a "half-assed semi-acoustic" concert. (He played a Lorne Green record, ferchrissakes!) I had read recent reviews that questioned why such a great songwriter was doing such awful covers as "Muskrat Love". The Ticketmaster concert review section was full of one star reviews of recent shows. The main complaints were too much talking and too many covers instead of originals and not enough hits. All of this, combined with the memory of Todd's last show in town, the horrible electronica (AKA: disco) "STATE Tour", had me approaching this show with GREAT trepidation. The stage setup had stools and did not have a standard rock drum kit, which had me worrying... but all of the guitars were of the electric variety, so this was good! (Strange that "Foamy" was nowhere to be seen, though.) Just from looking at the stage, I wasn't sure what to think before the show started. Then I was afraid, VERY AFRAID after that opening "song" - if you can call it that. "Vocalise" sounded more like an opera singer warming up his voice before a show than an actual song. "Oh my God, it's all true" I thought to myself. Then he went right into a great version of "There Goes My Inspiration" followed by" Love Of The Common Man" and things were looking up! There was, indeed, a lot of talking between songs and Todd even made a joke of it himself after someone yelled "We love you Todd" and he replied with "Shut up! Geez, I can't even get a word in edgewise!" The next cover, "96 Tears", was a very good version of the mid-sixties classic garage rocker. Stage banter was getting a little excessive by now, I turned to the people in my row and said "less talk, more rock" and everyone nodded. He was ranting about people who go to concerts to hear the hits and how he didn't plan on pleasing any of those folks... and then breaks into "Hello It's Me". Some intentional irony from our favorite musician-comedian! Now some of you may think "oh that tired old song" but this was about the second-best version of the song I ever remember being performed (keeping in mind that NO version could ever top the Nearly Human tour with the 12-piece band). This was a two-guitar, no keyboard version which was very interesting, and really curious, since there was a keyboard on stage. Then came the highlight of the night for me, a twin-lead guitar, knockout version of "Black and White". By this time it was obvious that Todd had been doing something that he seemed to have forsaken so often in past tours; rehearsing! This band was tight! The longest rap of the night came before "Muskrat Love". I think the song was actually shorter than the intro! And I was surprised as hell that it wasn't really that bad! I mean, gawd, it was better than 95% of the STATE set and it goes without saying that it was better than the version by The Captain & Toe Nail (as Todd referred to her). My sister looked at me at this point and said "from "Black and White" to "Muskrat Love"? No kidding! Then it got worse... and I was getting worried again. Another one of the silly covers followed; "Running Bear". (Good time to run to the bathroom!) I was really worried that the infamous Lorne Greene Tribute that I had heard about might be next. But Todd quickly redeemed himself, with an incredible stretch of three of his greatest pop ballads. He abandoned the guitar for the first time and went to the keyboard to do "I Don't Want to Tie You Down" followed by "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and wrapped up this great threesome with "Too Far Gone". He stayed at the keyboard for the next song, "Past", which I have to admit not remembering. I asked a friend where the song was from and he told me "No World Order" but it turns out that it is actually from "Liars". It fit right in with the previous three songs and actually was a highlight of the evening, a beautiful, sad song of past love. The crowd was truly wowed at this point, so of course Todd had to switch gears again and go back to the crazy covers. This time it was a loud, bombastic version of "Fire" (from one-hit-wonder The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) followed by (thankfully) the last cover of the night "Are You Having Any Fun" from Tony Bennett. (Answer: yes!) Next, it was back to the Faithful album -- the most represented album of the night along with Something/Anything? -- for the old classic "Cliche". Todd nailed it, as he should, having played it so many times on so many past tours. Next up was "I Saw The Light", this being the bossa nova version from "With A Twist". I would have preferred the standard, classic S/A? version, but the differences aren't all that dramatic. My girlfriend, who is not a lifetime Todd fan like myself, even noticed, however, and mentioned "I like this song, but this is different than the one on that disc you gave me". Very astute! Next up is "Soul Brother" and my memory failed me again as I told my sister that this is from "One Long Year" but is actually another one from "Liars". It was an outstanding version and this made for two great moments of the night from an album that is obviously not big in the minds of two lifelong Todd fans who could not remember where two of the songs came from. (I think it was for this song that Todd grabbed Kasim's bass while Kas went to the keyboard and someone yelled "That's a bass, Todd." Correct me if you remember otherwise, but it was one of the great audience shout-outs of the night.) The regular set came to a close with "Lysistrata", a classic example of great power pop with the story of the Greek woman who persuaded other women to withhold sexual favors from their men unless they quit fighting. Todd sings "you won't let me come inside, unless I don't go to war no more" with a nod and a wink... but I digress! The evening-ending encores had Todd back at the keyboard for "Song of the Viking" and strapping on the guitar for two (count 'em, two!) Utopia classics; "Love in Action" and "One World". A great ending to a great night - and all worries dispelled. Yes, Todd was a little too chatty at first. Yes, we could have done with more originals and less covers, and I personally could have done with more rockers and less ballads... but all in all it was a fantastic, fun night. And it looks like Todd might actually be responding to some of the criticism he has received from these "Unpredictable" shows, as he played plenty of guitar and dropped the unbearable Lorne Green section of the show that has received so many complaints... at least he did this in Minneapolis, anyway. But who knows what future shows may behold, because everyone knows that Todd has ALWAYS been unpredictable... I mean, the guy followed "Something/Anything?" with "A Wizard, A True Star", right? It doesn't get more unpredictable than that.
Vocalise (supposedly an Eduard Parma, Jr. cover??) There Goes My Inspiration (Utopia song from "Utopia") Love of the Common Man (from "Faithful") 96 Tears (Question Mark and the Mysterians cover) Hello It's Me (from "Something/Anything?") Black and White (from "Faithful") Muskrat Love (Willis Alan Ramsey cover made famous by America & The Captain & Tennille) Running Bear (J.P Richardson (The Big Bopper) cover made famous by Johnny Preston) I Don't Want to Tie You Down (from "A Wizard, A True Star") It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference (from "Something/Anything?") Too Far Gone (from "Hermit of Mink Hollow") Past (from "Liars") Fire (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown cover) Are You Havin' Any Fun (Jack Yellen and Sammy Fain cover made famous by Tony Bennett) Cliché (from "Faithful") I Saw The Light (version from "With A Twist") Soul Brother (from "Liars") Lysistrata (Utopia song from "Swing To The Right") Encores: Song of the Viking (from "Something/Anything?") Love in Action (Utopia song from "Oops! Wrong Planet") One World (Utopia song from "Swing To The Right")