Thursday, September 16, 2010

morristown review

Todd Rundgren brings ‘Healing’ to Morristown
Posted by Kevin Coughlin on September 16, 2010 · Leave a Comment

By Kevin Coughlin

One thing you can count on at a Todd Rundgren show: Fans are no longer of an age where they must dash home to relieve the babysitter.

Which led to this wondrous scene last night in Morristown, after the curtain went down on the singer’s “Todd/Healing” mini-tour.

The crowd picked up where Todd left off, filling the Community Theatre for three minutes with the swirling, hopeful refrain from Sons of 1984:

Worlds of tomorrow/ Life without sorrow/ Take it because it’s yours/ Sons of 1984

The concert’s first half was a complete recreation of the 1974 double-album, Todd. Backed by longtime tour-mates Prairie Prince on drums, Jesse Gress on guitar, Kasim Sulton (of Utopia fame) on bass, Greg Hawkes (The Cars) on keys, and Bobby Strickland on sax and other instruments, and framed by a gorgeously trippy laser light show, Todd was at his theatrical best preening through goofy numbers like An Elpee’s Worth of Toons and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song.

Other highlights from the set: The anthemic A Dream Goes on Forever, the poppy Izzat Love, the heavy Last Ride and the soaring Don’t You Ever Learn.

At times Todd’s vocals were lost in the mix–always a challenge with so much is going on, musically and visually.

The real magic began in the second half, with the complete performance of Todd’s appropriately titled 1981 album Healing.

In our recent interview with Todd, he swore that a brush with death had nothing to do with this album. Whatever inspired Healing, last night’s crowd certainly seemed grateful for the effort.

Healing is a mystical, spiritual, ultimately uplifting body of work that sings about the need for Compassion, and our ability to overcome the Tiny Demons that test us daily. The joyful message was underscored onstage by the Princeton Pro Musica choir, and by lyrics from the hypnotic Healing Part I:

Listen, listen
Listen for the sound
That is not in the music
Only you can hear it,
Only you can use it
It’s the sound of someone breathing,
It’s the breath of life
It’s the sound that you are weaving
With the thread of life

Like Brian Wilson’s Smile, Todd Rundgren’s Healing is best absorbed from a live performance. The motifs and threads are more organic, more visceral, than on the recording. And it’s always better sharing an upbeat vibe with kindred souls — and kindred voices.

One more thing.

Todd, about that gig at Obsessions in Randolph back in ‘87. Where you refused to play Hello, It’s Me…

All is forgiven.

Like you sang last night, time heals the wounds that no one can see.

my photos from Mayo community theater 9/15/10

a collections of some of the best shots todd/ healing tour

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Todd Rundgren at Clowes, Sept. 13

Review: Todd Rundgren at Clowes, Sept. 13
by Marc D. Allan

Todd Rundgren rarely goes backwards. In fact, he's usually years ahead of everyone else, whether it's interactivity with fans (on his 1973 A Wizard/A True Star album, he asked fans to send him their name to be included in a poster. They did, and the poster was contained in his next record, Todd) or marketing his music through the Internet, which he was doing back in 1997.

But on Saturday night at Clowes Hall, he set the Wayback Machine for 1974 and 1981, returning to a time when concerts were equal parts music and spectacle, artists could tap into multiple genres without losing audience support and musicianship mattered.

Oh, and just so we don't get overly nostalgic, those also were times when self-indulgence was a natural part of the program and shows ran past midnight.

For this current small tour, Rundgren is playing the Todd (1974) and Healing (1981) albums in their entirety. This is tough work – these are intricate, demanding songs – but he pulls it off beautifully, augmented by a bright, tight five-man band that includes Prairie Prince (ex-Tubes) on drums, Greg Hawkes (ex-Cars) on keyboards and longtime Rundgren bassist Kasim Sulton), a choir-for-hire (Butler University's Jordan Jazz filled the bill admirably), laser lights, costumes and more.

Both records are good, for different reasons. Todd mixes the blue-eyed soul that would become Hall and Oates' trademark ("A Dream Goes On Forever," "Useless Begging," "Izzat Love?"), driving riffs taken from the Yardbirds ("Everybody's Going to Heaven") or later to be swiped by Ted Nugent ("Heavy Metal Kids"), the Zappa-esque ("No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator") and the playfully silly ("An Elpee's Worth of Toons," Gilbert and Sullivan's "Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song"). There are also a couple of meandering instrumentals ("The Spark of Life," "Sidewalk Café"), but you come to appreciate Rundgren's range.

Having so many different styles makes Todd seem like a timepiece – and given the like-something-out-of-Yellow-Submarine outfits he and the band wore, maybe it is. Still, it felt good to hear the fiery guitar solos by Rundgren and Jesse Gress, lovely mixes of piano and power like "Don't You Ever Learn?" and Rundgren hitting every high note.

Healing, which comprised the second half of the show, is more like a rock opera. The songs of faith and redemption are not only more thematic but more textured, built upon layers of keyboards, guitars, church-like choruses and lyrics that may be more relevant today than they were when Rundgren wrote them.

"If you want to be healed/then you know you got to feel/compassion," he sang on "Compassion," a song that takes on new meaning when you hear it on 9/11.

This presentation of Healing felt like a dry run for a Broadway show. Traversing the stage, singing about commercialism ("Golden Goose"), change and moving on ("Pulse") and visions ("Healer"), Rundgren, dressed in a long, Nehru-style top, took on the aura of a spiritual leader. Although portions of the album drag – "Healing" parts 1, 2 and 3 do a lot of repeating, and the tone and approach of Bobby Strickland's sax solo made me think of Kenny G – by the end, the show had turned into a sing-along.

The final song was "Sons of 1984" (which actually was on the Todd album), which urges the next generation to fix what the previous one had failed to do. To send the audience into the streets (after 12:30 a.m.) singing of "worlds of tomorrow/life without sorrow" made an excellent concert feel like an important event too.

roy firstone interview w/ todd

i received this email last night at 1:30 from roy firstone >>
It was unbelievably great..Not me.him..3 hours..compelling..reflective...funny..moving..and it was a rousing standing ovation. At the end he said it was the most definitive interview he had EVER done..and it was all in large part because of your clips, stills and assistance in general. Thank you a million times.It was truly one of the highlights of my career

1970s rock star Todd Rundgren to perform, teach at IU

1970s rock star Todd Rundgren to perform, teach at IU

Alex Farris | IDS

Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren belts lyrics Saturday at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University. Along with releasing songs like "Bang the Drum All Day," Rundgren produced the albums Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf and We're An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad.

Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren plays his guitar during the first song of his show Saturday at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University. Rundgren will become the new Class of 1963 Wells Professor in late October.

Rundgren is a ’70s producer, songwriter, overall rock star and studio wizard, best known for his songs, “Hello It’s Me” from his 1972 album “Something/Anything?” and the party anthem, “Bang the Drum All Day” from his 1983 album, “The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.”
Rundgren will join IU faculty as the Class of 1963 Wells Professor in late October. He will give a public lecture, “LONGHAIR: Todd Rundgren on The Beatles Effect,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in Ballantine Hall 013 during Gass’ The Music of The Beatles class. He will conduct a public performance, “CLUSTER: The Birth of the T Chord,” at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 in Auer Hall.

Music professor Glenn Gass is not surprised by the number of blank stares he receives from his students when he announces that Todd Rundgren will be lecturing during class, even though Rundgren is considered one of 1970s most successful rock stars.

But the ’70s producer, songwriter, overall rock star and studio wizard will be joining the IU faculty as the Class of 1963 Wells Professor in late October. Rundgren is the ninth person to have this prestigious position.

Gass said Rundgren is well qualified to talk about The Beatles because he’s done many covers and tributes associated with the band. He has also toured with Ringo Starr, worked with George Harrison, knows Paul McCartney and worked on and off with John Lennon in the ’70s.

Rundgren is best known for his songs, “Hello It’s Me” from his 1972 album “Something/Anything?” and the party anthem, “Bang the Drum All Day” from his 1983 album, “The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.”

“He had fame handed to him on a silver platter and he gave it up to do his own thing, like producing,” Gass said. “I’m not surprised that a 20-year-old college student wouldn’t know him until you play his biggest hits.”

During his gig as a professor, Rundgren will make two public appearances on campus. The first will be a public lecture, “LONGHAIR: Todd Rundgren on The Beatles Effect,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in Ballantine Hall 013 during Gass’ The Music of The Beatles class.

Sophomore Brittany Tempest, who is enrolled in Gass’ Beatles course said she is excited about having the opportunity to hear Rundgren lecture
during class.

“Todd Rundgren is pretty much my hero,” Tempest said. “He’s been through it all, he’s not an outsider looking in. He’s lived it. He really knows what he’s talking about.”

Rundgren’s other public appearance will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 in Auer Hall where Rundgren will give a public recital entitled, “CLUSTER: The Birth of the T Chord.”

Both events will seat about 400 people and will be free and open to the public.
Gass said Auer Hall will be a great setting to see Rundgren perform.

“It’ll be just him, a guitar and maybe a piano,” Gass said. “He has a spectacular voice. I was stunned with his voice; he didn’t change the key or anything during his [Clowes Memorial Hall] performance.”

Gass is referring to Rundgren’s recent performance at Butler University’s Clowes Memorial Hall on Sept. 11.

Butler senior Jackie Gredell, a member of the Jordan Jazz vocal ensemble, shared the stage with Rundgren during parts of the second half of his show.

“When I found out we were singing back up for him,” Gredell said, “I googled him and found out that he sang ‘Bang the Drum All Day’ and ‘Hello It’s Me,’ which are very popular songs, so I was excited.”

Rundgren and a full band performed each and every song from 1974s “Todd” album and 1981s “Healing” as well as an ending with audience participation on the song “Sons of 1984.”

“The Butler concert showcased his back catalogue, which shows his depth,” Gass said. “Healing was perfect for 9/11. Him, the band, the choir, the students really nailed it. It was great.”

The four-week Wells Scholar course, The Ballad of Todd Rundgren: Musical Journeys of a Lifetime, will be instructed by Rundgren, Gass and contributing faculty; Bernice Pescosolido, distinguished professor and chancellor’s professor of sociology and Nick Toth, professor of anthropology and co-director of the Stone Age Institute.

Director of the Wells Scholars Program Tim Londergan had the final say in bringing
Rundgren to IU.

“Todd’s here for two weeks. Those weeks are framed for him to prep students for an understanding of his background,” Gass said.

Gass met Rundgren through the friendship that his sons had made with Rundgren’s nephew who lived next door during Gass’ year-long sabbatical in Hawaii. Only then was Gass able to approach Rundgren.

“We got to know their family. They always had them [our kids] over at ‘Uncle Todd’s,’” he said. “I had been trying to get in touch with him as the rock teacher trying to talk to Todd Rundgren, but was never able to.”

Depauw’s Executive Director of Media Relations Ken Owen, who is a Rundgren fan and scholar, invited Rundgren to speak at DePauw in April 2009.

“Todd wasn’t sure if he would enjoy lecturing, but he went, and he enjoyed it,” Gass said. “So I mentioned that we had to get him to IU, and we did with endowments from the Class of 1963.”

As to what Rundgren will be teaching, Gass said Rundgren is keeping that to himself.

“He’s got great stories to tell. Musicians are sometimes more comfortable talking about someone else they admire and who influences them versus their own music,” Gass said.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

behind the scene at the civic theater

Todd Rundgren-Everybody's Going to Heaven/King Kong Reggae

Frauenthal Theater, Muskegon, MI


Video: Healing(Bobby solos on sax-Awesome!!!)

upped by metalunatic
Akron Civic Theatre, Akron, Ohio

review: St. Louis show

By Daniel Durchholz • Special to the Post-Dispatch | Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 8:00 pm

What seemed like a fairly esoteric pursuit for Todd Rundgren turned into a magical musical night on Friday at Roberts Orpheum Theater, where the veteran recording artist played two complete albums from his distant past: 1974's "Todd" and 1981's "Healing."

Both are regarded as being among Rundgren's more insular works. Despite a few lush ballads and straight-ahead rockers, "Todd" is rife with sonic experimentation and studio tomfoolery; "Healing" is a synthesizer-driven concept album about spirituality.

But in concert, Rundgren brought them springing back to life by turning the stage into a time capsule. Psychedelic costumes as well as period lighting — vintage lasers and a primitive video screen — recalled the eras in which the music originated.

More modern contrivances — wireless instruments, headset microphones — as well as rollaway carts for the drum kit and keyboards allowed Rundgren and his five-piece band to come and go as was necessary, giving the stage a constantly evolving look that added to the presentation's theatricality.

The show's first half — the "Todd" portion — was a potent reminder of that album's eclectic nature. As it unfolded, Rundgren embodied the smooth, soulful balladeer on "A Dream Goes On Forever" and "The Last Ride"; the bold but trippy guitar hero on "Everybody's Going to Heaven/King Kong Reggae" and "No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator"; and the willful nut who thought it would be a great idea to insert Gilbert and Sullivan's "Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song" into the middle of a rock album. Despite an early vocal flub, he eventually mastered the song's machine-gun verbosity.

True to the album's spirit, Rundgren even brought out a tap dancer for a few rudimentary steps during "Useless Begging." But he judiciously excised the tedious synth workout "In and Out the Chakras We Go" from the proceedings, and the first set ended with the gorgeous, downbeat "Don't You Ever Learn?"

For "Healing," Rundgren and his band were occasionally joined by some singers recruited from Webster University. Not only were they terrific, they seemed to be having the time of their lives.

As Rundgren sang the album's probing lyrics, he paced back and forth and gestured significantly, as if he was rethinking anew issues addressed in songs such as "Flesh," "Compassion" and "Time Heals."

Out of sequence though it was, "Sons of 1984" — actually the finale of "Todd" — served as the show's encore. As the curtain came down and the band dropped out, the audience continued singing its chorus for some time — a remarkable ending to a remarkable show.


Video: spark of life @ Akron