Saturday, November 8, 2008

Concert Review:

Todd Rundgren By Dan Stubbs

"THIS is a very small venue for an Arena show," said Todd Rundgren at one point during Thursday night's gig.

It didn't stop him turning the amps up and letting the vocal chords shred like he was at Wembley.

Rundgren's a veteran rocker whose career dates back to '60s noiseniks Nazz.

Going solo in the '70s, he made his name as a singer, songwriter and producer, and recently, he's been touring with a new line-up of new wave rockers The Cars. This tour sees him defaulting back to his all-riffing, all-soloing, heavy rocking best.


But when the first handful of tracks saw Rundgren dispatch with most of his best-known tracks, including a half-hearted breeze through his greatest hit, the lovely, lilting I Saw The Light, alarm bells started to ring as loudly as his twiddly-diddly, flange-filled guitar playing.

Rundgren introduced I Saw The Light saying he'd "toss us a bon bon" ahead of "something special" he had planned.

The special something turned out to be a track-by-track run through his whole new album, aptly titled Arena.

The fans put a brave face on and allowed Rundgren his hour-long indulgence, which he joked they could record on their mobiles and save themselves the price of a download.

And to be fair, the new material sounded much like his more familiar material, an occasionally exciting, often gruelling hour of chugging blues, "sports rock", boogie woogie and power anthems.

At a time when most performers seems bent on reinvention and relevance in their golden years, be it Tony Christie covering Arctic Monkeys or Glen Campbell doing Green Day, it's refreshing to see one who's sticking with his guns.

To hell with fashion, Rundgren's got rock and that was enough for this joss stick-scented room.

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