Tuesday, July 01, 2008


"60 is the new 30" according to the merchandising accompanying the Todd Rundgren turns 60 tour in support of his new elpee worth of tunes called "Arena." Not available yet anywhere as far as I can tell, but definitely one I'm going to purchase. I did pick up a two dollar button with a lovely green guitar on it as a memento. Didn't buy the blue Toddstock lanyard with plastic water bottle attached. Funny, but still needless plastic.

I looked around for reviews of this show online but so far nothing, so I guess I'll leap into the void here with a few comments. The condensed report is: Todd still god. House of Blues has no soul. It's a chain club, a fast food and liquor join with no personality. Lots of products for sale in the "Company Store." That's what it is called and brings to mind the verse from the old blues folk song 16 Tons

You haul 16 tons and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Singing Jesus don't you call me
Cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.

If you want to see your favorite musician on tour these days, most likely it will be brought to you by Live Nation, which is fast becoming the all in one music corporation. A spin off from Clear Channel (shudder), Live Nation is sucking up a lot of profits up and down the music food chain.

The show was 40 minutes late in starting, not a good thing when there is very limited seating, and most of the crowd that is standing in front of the stage is not so young any more. Nobody came out to tell us why the show was late. The live human emcee is a thing of the past evidently in the age of Not So Live Nation. Instead we all stood and watched endless loops of promotional videos for Live Nation and House of Blues.

Finally the video vanished, the curtain opened and there was Todd at center mic, his arms bare and more muscular then I've ever seen them. It was guitar front and center night for sure, and Todd made various short very smart remarks throughout. Including that they'd had to go through "the valley of the shadow of death to get here tonight, Cleveland being the light at the end of the dark tunnel."

Then on with the show, beginning with a stunning full-out Love in Action, followed by a few choice greatest pop hit including a very hallucinogenic Black Mariah. Then Todd announced, they'd be going straight through the new album, which they did, barely stopping except here and there to wipe brows and take a sip of water. You can find the track list here. Can't say that he played every single one of them, as they were all new to me and it was difficult understanding the lyrics in such a crappy club with all the talking and carousing going on. One has to wonder why House of Blues for an album full of songs inspired by arena rock of the 80s?

Well, the best thing for me was having a great view of his hands on the guitar and also hearing his voice again -- nothing lost at all -- in fact, he seemed on top of his game. So maybe 60 is the new 30. That would make me 28 and a half. I feel friskier already!

For the curtain call, we got One More Victory, one of my all time favorite concert ending songs. Todd's band Jesse Gress, Prairie Prince, Mat Bolten and Rachel Haden lined up with him for a final traditional curtain call mid-stage, and arms about each other, bowed in unison. A very fitting finale. Go see them -- the tour is just starting.

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