Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: Bearsville Theater Steve Israel Times Herald-Record

Rundgren finds hook and hammers it home
Bearsville concert surprises, enchants fans
By Steve Israel
Times Herald-Record
July 30, 2008 6:00 AM

BEARSVILLE — To understand the unique allure of Todd Rundgren, meet
the Perk family of New Windsor. They're four of the 400 devout
Toddheads who packed the Bearsville Theater for Rundgren's knockout
Monday night show.

Dad Mike, who's seen Todd some 60 times, and mom Donna made
Rundgren's "Mated" their wedding song — after rocker Todd had wowed
dad with his devilish diversity by doing the Broadway
tune, "Something's Coming," from "West Side Story." Daughter
Jeanette, 20, remembers that Todd tunes were her lullabies. As for
youngest daughter, Jessica, 16?

"He's just awesome. Especially the lyric, "Eyes that have seen/Will
know what I mean."

But really, guys, what makes Todd Rundgren so special that you made
the show a family outing?

"He can do everything, from metal to softer melodic stuff," said
Jeanette before the Perks snared standing room next to the
stage. "And he's a crowd pleaser."

Rundgren and his hot four-piece rock band did it all during his two-
hour set that was book-ended by chestnuts like "Open My Eyes"
and "Couldn't I Just Tell You." But the centerpiece was his new,
unreleased album, "Arena," which features the latest surprise from
the former Town of Woodstock resident who's made a career of
surprising: arena rock. Rundgren, 60, played the whole thing — about
75 minutes — straight through.

Amazingly, he managed to integrate most of the ingredients of his
four-decade career — from tasty melodies to stick-to-your-ribs guitar
riffs — into big songs that packed enough punch to slay a stadium,
let alone this theater, which is smaller than a school auditorium.
And he did it with typical Todd tongue-in-cheek humor, taking a style
he could have parodied and turning it into a fist-pumping, crowd-
chanting rock concert.

"One of the keys to arena rock is find your hook and hammer it home,"
he explained. So even though the new tunes with names like "Mad"
pounded and rocked with the ferocity of one of Todd's windmill guitar
attacks, they were, at their core, as melodic as a hit like "I Saw
the Light."

All of which thrilled the crowd of cheering fans, including the Perks.

"Just great," said Mike, as mom and the kids stood in front of a
sweaty Todd and rocked.

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