Utopia in Grand Rapids

Review by Michael Pfeiffer (Switch to

I get 2 chances to see Utopia this time around. I'm seeing them at the Fillmore in Detroit, which I've been to many times and on Tuesday, I saw them at 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids. I've never been to 20 Monroe before this show. In the heart of Grand Rapids, it's a good location. It's smaller than Fillmore, much smaller and doesn't normally have chairs on the first floor. I was seated row "R" which was very close to the stage.

I've watched some of the YouTube clips from the recent shows and I have to tell you there is nothing like seeing and hearing the real thing. Yes, Todd does miss a few notes and probably adds things that shouldn't be there but he is still great on guitar. I thought the stage set up, projections, lighting and band positioning looked great. The stage here was a little small but Todd still had room to move. I'm not sure what the show would have been like with Ralph on keyboards but I really like Gil with the band. Not only is his synth playing excellent, his backing vocals fit right in and his extra spark of youthful energy helps give a little edge to the entire band.

The sound mix was pretty good. Kasim's vocal was a bit on the high side in the first set but they seemed to get that fixed in the second set. The crowd was pretty tranquil for most the show, remaining in their seats with the occasional shout out to Todd. I chose to stand to the side of the seats and move around a little to the music. The first set of the night is more focused of the musicianship, spotlighting solos and harmonies while the second set is more laid back, with the focus on the band as a unit having fun with blazing songs like "Hammer in My Heart" and "Love In Action."

Towards the end of the night with LITA most of the crowd came around to standing up and singing along. They must have woke up security as well, as they tried to get the audience to back up from the stage and got a "Calm down security!" warning from Todd. "One World" followed and the crowd was even more energized and started to dance along. "Just One Victory" followed and I have to admit I got a little teary-eyed on this one. It's such a brilliant song to share with an audience, Todd's singing and high-fiving fans, the wonderful backing vocals and the crowd at this point feels like family.

The sad part is the show's over and now we have to make our way home wondering when we will have a night this magical again. Of course, for me the answer is easy, a couple days later in Detroit!

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren Dates
5/15/2018 - 20 Monroe Live - Grand Rapids, MI

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