Review of Cleveland I, Saturday, 5/19/18

Review by Grady Moates (Switch to

On the first night of Utopia's two-night stand at the Hard Rock Rocksino in Cleveland, I was exhausted. The drive from Boston was debilitating to say the least. However, the Rundgren Radio Birthday Bash on Friday night set the stage for a great weekend! Kasim, Willie and Gil all showed up for a nice visit just as Secret Society started, and it was great fun just outside the ballroom hanging with them. Kas started cutting the birthday cakes and Gil Assayas moved in to listen to Tim Longfellow's keyboard treatments of Utopia tunes. That really set the stage for the first Cleveland Utopia show Saturday night.

There were 130 fans in the pre-show Meet+Greet line, but Michele was clearly ready for it, as she explained how the M+G was going to go down. 130 fans is a large number to have pre-show fun with in the short time available, but we all cooperated to make it efficient and quick.

A sold-out show at this venue is a sight to behold! Because of security issues, there were hundreds of Toddlers in line 30 minutes before showtime, and the line snaked all around the casino, but the screening went quickly, so the show started not long after the planned time of 8 PM.

The sound for us, in the 7th row, was much better than we had in Boston. . . the lip-fill speakers were actually working, and had a good mix in them for where we were sitting. It was quite loud, but I'm no more deaf now than I was last week, so no harm, no foul. The only problem was a really bad subsonic resonance in the stage that frequently distorted Kasim's bass and made the kick drum irritating at times.

However, the guys are really into it this far along on the tour. . . it's like they've been playing for several months and have relaxed into the show, having more fun and letting a little more "swing" into their performance. Occasionally, Todd fluffed a guitar lead, and took a few bars to find his way back, but they all took it in stride.

The keyboards were up in the mix where they should be, and Gil's confident playing was stellar. He added his own touches to Roger's original arrangements throughout the evening, but when he needed to be accurate to match our memories of the keyboard "hooks", he nailed them all. Near the end of the first set, Gil played a particularly difficult keyboard riff perfectly, and you could see the sheer joy on Todd's face.

Second set really moved along, and Kasim's singing was great on his signature numbers like Trapped, Swing To The Right, Back On The Street and I Will Wait, four of my Utopia favorites. Kasim had to cut his high notes just a bit short at the ends of phrases to save his voice, but it was elegantly done.

Willie was singing a lot of backing vocals, and was easily heard in the mix, something I didn't hear in Boston. And WOW did he drive the show hard!

And what can you say about that Todd guy? I don't know where he gets the energy and the stamina to pull off this kind of energetic show, and he doesn't make it look easy. But he lets us see him working hard as he _does_ pull it off, and for me that's special.

Tuesday night in Chicago is the big video shoot from which a DVD release is planned. I think they're ready!

Other reviews for Todd Rundgren Dates
5/19/2018 - Hard Rock Live - Cleveland, OH

The Todd Rundgren Connection is brought to you by Roger D. Linder & The Linder Logo Rocemabra Web Services.