Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review from another blogger of Stockholm show

The phone rang the other day. I answered it to hear Todd Rundgren on the other end. "Gene," he said, "I'm coming to Stockholm and need some help with the set list. Any suggestions?" "Sure, Todd," I said.

OK, Todd didn't call me. But last night he did come to Stockholm and his set list was as if I (and maybe any other Todd fan) had picked this concert's "worth of tunes."

Stockholm is a great city for music and on 2/22 at about 8:30 pm I'm walking home when I saw a poster announcing a solo, acoustic Todd show, not in the usual three months, but for the following night. I whip out the iPhone and go online to get a ticket. Hmmm, last row with the pigeons. Screw it, I'll grab a scalper and pay a premium.

I'm in front of the theater the next night about an hour before the show. No scalpers or any ticket selling activity. So, 45 minutes before showtime, I walk into the box office and ask if there are any floor seats? "How about this one?" the guy says. 11th row middle. Less than 24 hours from seeing the poster-I'm in the audience for face value. I love Stockholm.

Södra Teaterns is the oldest theater in Stockholm and is situated in the heart of the city's bohemian area, with breathtaking views over the capital. Although built as a theatre, the main focus of the venue today is on music. It is a beautiful and intimate lounge, appointed in green and gold with red velvet chairs with a 414 seat capacity. In his greeting, Todd remarked on the venue's intimacy but likened the decor to a "French whorehouse."

Todd was dressed in dark jeans, a black hoody trimmed in emergency green, gold sneakers, sunglasses and the trademark blonde streaked hair. He was accompanied by one electric guitar and grand piano. I guess it was semi-accoustic.

Wasting little time he started with "Love of the Common Man" followed by "Cliche." He professed that it was difficult in these solo events to decide "when to rock." He said he wanted to rock early this night and tore into the intro of "Black & White."

The show was divided into three segments, guitar, piano and then guitar. Todd was in a very open and friendly mood, obviously pleased with this mini-Scandinavian tour.

Unfortunately the audience had no one under the age of twenty something. Gray hair was the common denominator. However, there is an atmosphere in Swedish crowds of this age group. Whether it is honed by the classical music concert tradition, or the acceptance of the jazz legends of the 50's and 60's, Swedish audiences listen, without the war whoops and chants for song selections elsewhere. That's not to say they are not enthusiastic. When Todd opens up the floor, he gets his responses, some witty enough to bring a chuckle to the Puck's face. As Todd remarked, "I'm a little like lute fish (a strong smelling traditional Nordic dish of dried white fish), a little strange, an acquired taste…but you (the audience) seem to have an appreciation for it."

Todd was a little rough at first, especially on the high registers, but as the evening went on he adjusted and the throat loosened up and he was sounding as good as I have ever heard him. His guitar playing was as expected, after all he is a guitar god. During "Born to Synthesize," which was played with a jazzy motif, he ripped off a little blues-based guitar solo, which brought appreciative applause. "Oh, did you like that?" Todd said. "Here's a little more," and ripped into another, tastier, run. Getting more applause, he told us to stop, "Because I can do this shit all night."

He then moved to the piano, where he began with the haunting "Past." As a tribute to his Nordic audiences (he also played in Norway) he played "The Viking Song"-Gilbert and Sullivan style.

However, during the piano segment, Todd had trouble with his playing. He missed notes, started-stopped-said sorry and started again. To be honest, it was surprising to see the producer/composer have such a problem. It made the Wizard/True Star become less an icon and more a mortal. It really was endearing, in a way, that he allowed us to share his vulnerability. Todd was sharing some of his songs. It brought the artist closer and gave us a glimpse of the person behind the mask.

Back to the guitar for the finale, which included a sing along version of The Beatles "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" including the requisite "HEY!

Finishing with "I Saw the Light" and "One World," Todd thanked the crowd, said we would see him "soon" and was gone. The applause and call for an encore was barely needed, as Todd almost bounded back to the piano bench and gave us, "Hello, It's Me" and "A Dream Goes on Forever."

Finished, he got up, bowed, waved and left. Not enough called the crowd, and he agreed. Stockholm got a second encore.

During the first encore, Todd had a particularly hard time with the piano. He completely missed the intro to "A Dream Goes On Forever" to the point he just abandoned it all together. When he finished and took his bows, he seemed genuinely embarrassed by his gaffes.

I'm sure that's why he came out so quickly for the second encore.
He didn't have a song ready, and while he was considering, audience members were calling up their favorite songs for him to play. Unfortunately, for the reader, I was so intent on watching the artist determined to give this appreciative audience what he felt they deserved, that I have no idea, exactly, what song he played.

Forgive me for the oversight, there really is no excuse. But to see the TODD persona completely wiped clean and watch the real Todd Harry Rundgren perform was, in itself, worth being there. I, for one, will now see Todd Rundgren in a completely different light.

Set List
Love of the Common Man
Black & White
I Don't Want to Tie You Down
There Goes My Inspiration
Hammer in My Heart
It wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
Too Far Gone
The Viking Song
Born to Synthesize
Beloved Infidel
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
I Saw The Light
One World
Hello, It's Me
A Dream Goes On Forever
2nd Encore


Anonymous said...

Well done...great share. Thank you!

--josh-- said...

I'm gonna bet that last encore was The Wheel.