review of Utopia at the Warner Theater in DC Inbox x TR Reviews x

Review by Wayne Kern (Switch to

Let me start by saying I almost didn't go after watching the Utopia reunion (with Prairie Prince replacing Willie) that opened for the AWATS tour a few years ago. What a dull, lifeless concert. Fortunately I watched some of the current tour on youtube and decided to go. Last night's show was terrific. Great song selection. Hard to believe Todd's ability to sing at his age. Unlike other rockers (Phil Collins and Billy Joel come to mind) Utopia did not lower the keys to any songs and still sounded great. Todd's voice still sounds strong. So nice to hear in comparison with other aging rockers like McCartney. Paul is another all time favorite of mine, but his voice has been weak and wobbly for years now. A little straining from Todd and Kaz on a few high notes, but it did not detract from the performance. Background vocals were perfect. I could swear that at the end part of Just One Victory, I heard both the "Some how..." and "Hold that line..." melodies with harmony, mixed low. You can't have at least two part harmony with only three guys singing those parts. Anyone else hear this? If it's true, was anything else prerecorded? Gil sounded perfect on keyboards, but with such short notice did he really know all those parts cold? With Ralph cancelling due to illness with short notice, cancelling the tour could have been rather problematic. Anyway, let's assume that everything was live on stage.

The show was 2 ½ hours with a 20 minute break. Gil had the parts down with the right sounds. I appreciated that he did not learn solos off the records note for note but did his own solos in the spirit of the originals. Great stage presence too -- often smiling and moving/grooving to the music. Todd sang great and played great, although he did hit quite a few bum notes on his solos. Kasim played and sang great as he did in the 70's and 80's. So nice to hear him sing lead after seeing him numerous times in the last few years back Todd on "Todd Rundgren" gigs and not get any songs of his own. I didn't care for Willie's drumming back in the day because it was too simplistic, but last night he embellished more and took the music up a notch in a way he hadn't in the past. Todd said almost nothing except for a few "Thank you"'s. I was disappointed, as part of the appeal of his concerts has been his charm and his sense of humor. And he wore shades the whole concert, which separates the performer from the audience in my mind.

The audience had a great time, and many were on their feet starting with One World.

The displays on stage were a nice addition without being a distraction from the performers.

Overall, a great concert and a great time.

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5/02/2018 - Warner Theater - Washington, DC

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