Acoustic guitar and Patronet. A banana shaker and an electric guitar. An audience of ten year olds, 40 year olds, and someone's grandma. A restored theater serving popcorn, candy, and soda tucked back in a quiet little town, and a smoky bar on the noisy and congested main drag of Route 30 serving beer, beer, and more beer. Glasses on, glasses off. A voice that was both smooth and electric, gentle and ragged.
There were lots of contrasts on my two day Todd bender - I was at Roxy's in Northampton and Maddies in Frazer. Todd was the constant.
Saturday night's concert at the Roxy Theater in Northampton was incredible. The theater was sold out. Jesse was in the lobby greeting his local fans and family while we waited for the doors to open, and when they did, the house usher held us out of the seating area because Todd was still on stage working with his laptop - which he then pretty much forgot about most of the night. Very little techie talk and lots of singing, despite my expectations that we were going to hear many commercials for Patronet.
Highlights for me with "just" Todd (not as if he isn't quite enough by himself!) were Number One Lowest Common Denominator, I Don't Want to Tie You Down, Compassion, Love of the Common Man, and Lysistrata. John Ferenzik on piano and bongos and Jesse on guitar joined Todd for the bossa nova left from the Tiki Tour. I loved this sound then and I love it now, especially with the addition of Zen Archer and Born to Synthesize - Todd played both the bongos and a shaker egg during this. The "egg song," Never Never Land, and Mated were beautiful. Jesse began the chords to A Dream Goes on Forever long before I was ready for the night to end. Todd's encore of Hawking was heart wrenching.
The Maddies show had a much harder edge to it. It combined numerous high tech intentions with a lot of snags that weren't helped at all by a crowd that was downright rude at times. However, Todd doesn't have an ego quite so big that he can't laugh at himself and his foibles. The ukelele and guitar were untuned, the guitar strings broke way too many times, Todd's glasses wouldn't stay on his nose. All this makes no difference to me - I would rather see this real man, who is far from perfect on the stage, than a flat entertainer who is polished and completely lacking in personality and emotion, both of which Todd possesses in generous and visible quantities.
Black and White, Cliche, Fidelity, Hammer in My Heart were all additions from the night before. Todd asked for requests but played what he pleased. He told one ugly fan to "shut his goddamned mouth" when the ukelele for Bang the Drum wasn't tuning properly. It may well be that the night was a frustrating one for him as well. The world had a much more jagged feel than it had the night before from the sedate stage of the Roxy. But, you know, I wouldn't have missed a chance to see Todd either night. The concerts were like the difference between A Dream Goes on Forever and Number One Lowest Common Denominator - all is silent within my dream/it's time to scream. Gentle and raw. Vastly different but very much alike. Power and passion. TR is the constant.