Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Reunion show from

Utopia @ Highline Ballroom New York City, NY January 29, 2011
Last Updated on Saturday, 05 February 2011 01:19
Written by Thom Jennings
Thursday, 03 February 2011 23:40

Throughout his forty-year plus career, Todd Rundgren has gone through many phases with varying degrees of commercial success. Through it all, he has developed and maintained a fiercely loyal following. Nonetheless, there are certain phases of Rundgren's music that are revered by fans, one of those was what can be characterized as his progressive rock phase in the mid 1970’s. It was then that Rundgren formed the musical collective known as Todd Rundgren's Utopia, which later evolved into just Utopia.
Accompanying Rundgren in the early days was Mark "Moogy" Klingman, a multi-talented session player and songwriter. The band known as Utopia, along with a few guests, came together Saturday night at The Highline Ballroom in New York City for a benefit for Klingman who is battling cancer. This was the first opportunity for many fans to witness this iconic lineup live, thus both shows sold out almost as soon as they went on sale.
The show opened with Klingman on piano playing an extended intro for "Never Never Land" and then Todd appeared onstage drenched in the spotlight. It was a magical beginning to a magical evening. The band continued with "Crying in the Sunshine," "Lady Face," and "Dust in the Wind," three of Klingman's songs.
The meat of the program was the Utopia material. Marathon numbers like the "Utopia Theme," and "The Ikon" sounded spectacular and brought the sellout crowd into frenzy. The entire band played with conviction and they all seemed to be drawing energy from the crowd.
The set also drew heavily from 1975's "Another Live" including "Another Life," "Heavy Metal Kids," "The Wheel," and "Do Ya." They also played "Set Me Free," from the four-piece lineup, with Kasim Sulton on piano and vocals. It was Utopia's highest charting single.
The regular set ended with a stellar version "Just One Victory," the traditional closer of Utopia shows for many years. The encores included a massive sing-along to "Sons of 1984" and "Friends," a Klingman composition made famous by Bette Midler.
Everyone in the band smiled as if they were playing their first show, and fans roared their approval. There was no indication these guys had not played together since 1974. Background vocalists Darryl Tookes and Curtis King sang with Sulton throughout the evening and longtime Rundgren guitarist Jesse Gress sat in on a couple of songs, most notably on "Dust in the Wind."
This was a show that some Rundgren fans had waited a lifetime to see, and nobody left disappointed.

Set List:
Never Never Land
Crying in the Sunshine
Lady Face
Dust in the Wind
Utopia Theme
Freak Parade
Another Life
The Ikon
Heavy Metal Kids
The Wheel
Set Me Free
Do Ya
Last Ride
Freedom Fighters
Just One Victory
Sons of 1984

All photos by Correspondent Charles Madden.

Even though Utopia has no firm plans to tour in the near future, Utopia members Ralph Schuckett and Kasim Sulton will be performing with Todd this spring. They will be performing the “Todd” and Healing” albums for five performances; dates, venue and ticket information can be found at

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