Todd Rundgren’s state of mind expressed at Los Angeles area concert
Todd Rundgren’s July 11 concert at Agoura’s Canyon Club left no true Rundgren fan surprised. Promoting his 24th album State, the multi-instrumentalist only enlisted fellow accomplices guitarist Jesse Gress and drummer Prairie Prince.
To say that Rundgren has never stayed stagnant is an understatement.
Those following him have ventured down many musical paths, noting his technical innovations and fearless experimentation, know what would come.
Last night proved no different, with his latest venture.
Rundgren played essentially in darkness, with very little lighting. Meanwhile, blinding lights flashed on the audience.
Rundgren and Gress wore goggles and sunglasses, as the Runt’s eyes were covered on the album’s front cover artwork.
With the intensity of the light, many of those in the audience began putting on sunglasses to avoid the intense glare.
This led to some amusement in the audience, some of which was baffled by Rundgren’s barely lit stage. Armed with a mic hanging from above, this is where he spent most of his time.
Occasionally picking up guitars including “Foamy,” his green Project P Fernandes Strat, Rundgren With active electronics, nothing else on it is customized.
Opening the show with “Imagination,” the first song from his new album, Rundgren took the audience through the entire disc. All instruments on it are played by Rundgren, who produced the album.
Dressed in jeans and a multi-colored pullover shirt, Rundgren’s semi-theatrical delivery, had the audience engaged throughout the show.
Rundgren seemed amused when an apparently drunk female jumped on stage and started dancing. Soon others followed suit, with Rundgren surrounded on stage by revelers.
Noting the set-up of the venue, and the tight packed audience, he observed, “It would be hard to dance in here.”
One of the evening’s highlights was the performance of his track “Ping Me.”
Angry Bird” brought a bass riff that has a run-in with trance, while "Smoke” was a synthed out, multi-layered, polyrhythmic piece.
With its fetching chord arrangement and harmonic structure, Rundgren has ultimately written tracks for the album that could be later translated into a myriad of styles.
“Collide-A-Scope” further exemplifies Rundgren’s computerized musicianship, via more of his experimental tinkering. “Party Liquor” showed Rundgren could serve up dance tracks.
"Sir Reality” sent out a few more doses of keyboards with Rundgren's signature vocals.
Rundgren has joked about someone walking out and wanting their money back after each of his shows “for not playing “Hello It’s Me” within the first hour.
Therefore, it was with a bit of irony, or musical satire, that towards the end of the show, Rundgren classic radio staples, including “Hello, It’s Me,” “I Saw The Light,” and “Can We Still Be Friends” were thrown out at the audience at countless beats per minute, electronica style.
Rundgren never felt limited to sew his musical oats, and that was the state of affairs at Thursday night’s show.
Rundgren, who produced such iconic albums as Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell,” laid out his R&B cred. Going into the song “Serious,” with its funky groove, Rundgren emoted, “Foxy lady, I’m comin’ to get you,” invoking guitar icon Jimi Hendrix.
On “No World Order,” Rundgren gave his best East Coast style rap delivery. Someone listening to the lyrics of his 2004 track “Soul Brother” may not have expected this.
While the show was just over an hour long, some Rundgren fanatics waited even longer than that to try to meet him, or track him down as he left the venue.
After a long evening, it was obvious that despite any pre-recorded over-dubbing, the band was working hard on stage.
A mixture of computerized genius, laced with organic guitar and drums, and songs like “Angry Bird” and “Truth,” with the album State, the “Future” has already arrived.