‘UP AGAINST IT’ – De Oosterport, Groningen – 19th February, 2016

Review by Anthony McGarrigle (Switch to

One of the great mysteries to me for the best part of a lifetime following Todd Rundgren was how the music to 'Up Against It', Todd's musical based on a Joe Orton screenplay, would have sounded when performed with the backing it was written for. It seemed unlikely that the mystery would ever be resolved as the show was pulled after only a few off-Broadway performances and all we had was the cd of demos released some years back. That cd promised more than it delivered and although it contains possibly my favourite version of 'Parallel Lines' many of the other songs are underdeveloped and performed in all cases by TR assuming the guise of a woman in several cases. We did of course have wonderful versions of 'The Smell of Money', 'If I Have To Be Alone' and 'Love In Disguise' on Second Wind but that still left two thirds of the show apparently languishing in limbo with no prospect of being given the treatment that they so richly deserved and which they were written for in the first place. Fast forward a couple of decades and step forward Co deKloet a Dutch radio DJ with the same fondness for Todd Rundgren that we all have but fortunately with a bit more clout than most of us. Co masterminded a concert in Amsterdam with Todd performing orchestral arrangements of some of his songs with the Metropole orchestra. The initial concert was such a success that TR came back for the Metropole 2 a couple of years later. The success of these concerts was due in no small measure to the wonderful orchestration of Todd's work by Tom Trapp. Two concerts done Mr. deKloet and Mr. Trapp were left with the difficult question as to what they could do to top them. Thankfully they came up with the idea of orchestrating 'Up Against It'. Tom Trapp had nothing to work with other than the demo cd referred to above but that didn't deter him and so it was that on the evening of Friday the 19th of February 2016 we gathered at De Oosterport in the Netherlands for the first orchestral rendition of Todd's musical 'Up Against It' performed by the writer and the NNO (North Netherlands Orchestra). There was a wonderful air of anticipation as the backing singers took TO the stage joined first by Matilde Santing and Wouter Penris who were to share the lead roles with Todd and then by the Wizard himself. TR began by giving an outline of how the screenplay had come in to existence and then explained how he had become involved in the whole project. We then launched in to 'When Worlds Collide'. When the opening number finished there was a very short pause as people took in what they had just heard followed by rapturous applause from the entire theatre. The evening continued with Todd narrating the storyline and the cast performing the musical numbers as and when they came up. Every song was a gem. Songs like 'Free, Male and 21' and 'Life Is A Drag' took on a whole new identity whilst others like 'Lily's Address' and 'Entropy' had their brilliance fully illustrated with the backing of the superb NNO. Highlights? They were all highlights!! I suppose if I had to pick one it would be 'We Understand Each Other' which was the one I particularly wanted to hear given the complexity of the arrangement. This was a magical evening in the company of a man who was revelling in the occasion and who had the support of an incredible orchestra and wonderful backing singers. If you weren't there I feel for you but the good news is that it will be broadcast on Dutch radio in April or May and it has been video recorded so we might yet get a DVD release or at least something similar to what the wonderful Lion Keezer did with the Metropole concerts.

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren Dates
2/19/2016 - Oosterpoort - Groningen, Netherlands

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