Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Concert Announcement : DC Washington Examiner

Todd Rundgren returns with new tricks in 'Arena'
By Nancy Dunham
Special to The Examiner 12/17/08

ALEXANDRIA – Todd Rundgren is the Merlin of musicians.
Just when you think his last musical trick — either as a performer, recording artist or producer — has been played, he pulls another metaphoric rabbit out of the hat. This time it's a double shot — his new stadium rock album "Arena," and the announcement that he will produce the next New York Dolls album.

Todd Rundgren takes the stage at Birchmere tonight. -- Courtesy Photo "I don't see a producer's hat as that different from an artist's hat," Rundgren said. "The vast majority of artists have some commercial concerns about their records. I often have had the luxury of not thinking in those terms because I produce records for others."

That meant that despite his worldwide acclaim as an artist in the 1970s and 1980s, he could walk away from stadium rock when he grew weary, leaving classic songs including "Hello, It's Me" and "Bang the Drum All Day" as his vinyl calling cards.

Rundgren packed up his expertise and moved it behind the scenes. His video for "Time Heals" was one of the first to be shown on MTV, and his Web site, PatroNet, was one of the first to allow subscribers to access music directly from the site.

Yet he's perhaps best known for his production chops on classics such as Grand Funk Railroad's "American Band" album.

"Todd Rundgren is a genius, and I don't use that word a lot," said composer Jim Steinman, who has spoken publicly of his awe at Rundgren's production work on Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell."

No wonder he was tapped to produce the eagerly awaited Dolls album, which has received a huge boost of publicity now that Rundgren signed on.

A stint that began in 2006, when Ric Ocasek began fronting the "The New Cars," brought Rundgren back to audiences and rekindled an enthusiasm that ultimately became "Arena."

The album's full of the big hooks and catchy lyrics you expect from Rundgren, the type of music that gets its messages across — in this case a call to arms to bear up under unbearable burdens — while still allowing the listener some fun.

The great news for fans is that Rundgren is touring in support of "Arena." Grab tickets quickly because many shows have sold out quickly and Rundgren might not tour extensively.

"It's always a joy to play for my audience," he said of his limited touring. "But I don't want to take too much advantage of them."

If you go
Todd Rundgren
Venue: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria
When: 7:30 tonight
Details: $35; 202-397-SEAT;

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