Friday, August 9, 2013

The Ever Popular Multi-Talented Artist Effect: Todd Rundgren Live in Ridgefield

Todd Rundgren has been entertaining & electrifying fans since his days with the Nazz in the late 60s. He’s probably jumped across more genres than almost anyone else in the rock era, as an artist, producer & digital recording pioneer. From pop to soul to electronica to heavy metal, he’s done it all. He’s even recorded an album of lounge style versions of his songs! Todd has enthralled, mystified & confounded fans in equal measure with his musical explorations & experiments. On Saturday, August 3, he brought his “Greatest Hits” Tour to CT’s Ridgefield Playhouse. While he’s also been doing a run of shows this year focusing on other projects & sounds, this was a straight ahead rock & roll show, showcasing many memorable songs from throughout his remarkable 40+ year career.

Todd kicked off the night with a wonderful version of “Real Man,” from 1975’s Initiation. Other early highlights included a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Kind Hearted Woman” and the classic “Love of the Common Man” from 1976’s Faithful. Todd was in good spirits, moving back and forth across the stage, playing some excellent guitar; he really seemed to draw energy from the venue’s intimate setting. Todd even did a portion of the set seated, playing shakers shaped like fruit! He even told a few brief anecdotes between songs. It’s clear he hasn’t lost his sense of humor as he gave out a “salty language” warning before “Flaw,” for the benefit of those fans who might have brought their kids to the show.

Frequent Rundgren collaborators Kasim Sulton (Meat Loaf, Utopia) on bass and Prairie Prince (The Tubes, The New Cars) on drums were part of the fantastic band, who sounded great; they were clearly having a blast playing with him. The sold out crowd also added to the electricity of the show. Todd’s always acknowledged his fans and has a close relationship with them, and they were dazzled by hits like “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference, “I Saw The Light,” and “Can We Still Be Friends?” There were also passionate performances of deeper cuts such as the Utopia track "Love Is The Answer" (a hit for England Dan & John Ford Coley in 1979), “Buffalo Grass” and  “Expresso,” which sounded amazing live.

Another high point was the tribute to soul music (one of Todd's favorite genres), featuring an excellent cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” along with Smokey Robinson’s “Ooo Baby Baby” and Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions’ “I’m So Proud.” By the time he got to the power pop classic “Couldn’t I Just Tell You?” a cadre of middle aged female fans were joyously dancing in the aisles. When Todd returned for the encore of “Hello It’s Me and “A Dream Goes On Forever” it was clear from the audience reaction that he could have played two more hours, and not one fan would have left the show. Todd's artistry, sincerity, humanity & spiritualism come through in his best recorded work, but he really shines in his live performances. If you’re a fan and you get the chance to see him on this tour, it’s well worth the trip. You won't be disappointed.

Photos by John V

Here are links to Todd performing "Love of The Common Man" from the Nearly Human tour in 1990: and "I Saw The Light" with Daryl Hall from 2011:

Next: A Trip Back In Musical Time With "Early Elton"

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