Todd Rundgren Arena
Subscribe to Free Todd Rundgren Podcasts
New Todd Rundgren Album - [re]Production
Released September 13, 2011
Todd Rundgren Fan Blogs
Todd Rundgren, October 6, 2008, Park West, Chicago, IL
Review by Gary Stroner
ToddRundgrenArena.com -- October 14, 2008 -- What a treat it was to get to see Todd Rundgren again back in a venue he knows so well Park West Chicago. He has performed here at least eight times including consecutive yearly New Year's Eve shows in the 1980s. When I last saw Todd at Chicago in 2005 with Joe Jackson and the string quartet known as ETHEL (at a different theatre), he told the audience how much he's enjoyed playing in Chicago and reminded everyone of those New Year's Eve shows and how much fun they were. He got a great round of applause then.
Well, the Arena Tour brought him back to Park West and he and his band did not disappoint far from it they rocked.
Todd came out with attitude. As the band walked on stage a little after 8:00 PM, wearing tight black leather pants, a muscle t-shirt and dark sunglasses, he stepped to the microphone and motioning toward the band, he said "Us for president!." The band immediately broke into "Love in Action" [from the 1977 Utopia album Oops! Wrong Planet]. Instantly the room was jumping. The song's many starts and stops were mastered with precision. Considering that this show was early in the tour, the timing was impressive and foretold of the great music to come. We knew we were in for a trip back in time as Todd looked like he had stepped right out of 1972.
Next Todd and his band took us through some magical moments from the past; The Call's "The Walls Came Down," "Black Maria,", Nazz's "Open My Eyes," Red Ryder's "Lunatic Fringe," and "I Saw the Light." Todd introduced each song with attitude and lots of good banter in between. "Light" was introduced as "a confectionary, kind of like canolli." He seemed genuinely pleased to be up on stage playing for us. At one point, he said "This is fucking fun on stage!" At another he explained that they are playing the "same old shit because everyone wants to hear the same old shit, so we're going to give you the same old shit!" He was obviously enjoying himself windmilling like Pete Townshend and doing scissor kicks during songs. In fact, he ended most of the songs during the show with jumping scissor kicks.
After the blast from the past, he told the audience that we would now be treated to the Arena album. "We're going to do 13 in a row now from Arena album. The first guitar notes to "Mad" came from the stage and they were off and running. As this was the only song I know well from Arena album, I instantly got into it and was impressed by how great it sounded live. That was only the beginning; the rest of the album also sounded wonderful. I was surprised by the variety of song styles there are pretty pop ballads, bluesy numbers, and straight out rockers. Todd took lead guitar on all of them. The stand out songs for me were "Mercenary" and "Gun," which had powerful beats and took the audience by the throat. Two of the other songs were hardcore enough for me that I thought I was hearing AC/DC for a minute! The final song has an audience participation part with fists pumped overhead in a "Hi, Hi" chant. The lights came up on the audience and everyone participated.
There was only one encore, but we were all to leave happy after being treated to a magnificent version of "Couldn't I Just Tell You." At one point during the song, all four guitarists Todd, Jesse Gress, Rachel Haden, and Kasim Sulton took to the front of the stage to do a little can-can kicking (a la Rockettes) in unison. Todd was clearly happy to be back on stage.
The last song of the night took us all back to tours of yesterday, when Todd sounded the opening note to "Just One Victory." It was what we all wanted to hear, as everyone was singing along and swaying back and forth, clapping with arms raised. His searing lead guitar to close out the song matched with those high pitched vocals made for a great moment. This was the highlight for me. I have a new appreciation for Todd as a guitarist. I never knew how good he was on lead! The rest of the band was solid. Kasim (also in sunglasses) preferred to stay in the background shifting between guitars and keyboards. Drummer Prarie Prince was animated and kept the audience in the show with his drumstick twirls and gestures to get us all pumped up. Rachel is an excellent bassist who laid down a great beat, preferring not to be flashy and surrendering the stage and attitude to Todd.
The show ended at 10:00 PM a little too soon in my opinion. I wanted more! The audience wanted more too, but having just heard "Victory" we knew that was it for the night. At the end of "Victory," all musicians stood arm in arm and took a collective bow. Todd thanked everyone for coming and we were off to dream of future chance encounters with Todd and his great music.
Todd Rundgren Arena Track List
Todd Rundgren Links