Thursday, October 06, 2011

Todd Rundgren @ Jazz cafe, London 03/10/11 and 05/10/11

Todd played 3 nights at London's Jazz Cafe this week. I went along to Monday and Wednesday's gigs.

It is a venue that holds around 300 people, so is pretty 'cozy' as far as viewing experiences go. A continuation of the dates he'd been doing in the US recently it was billed as “The greatest hits tour his fans have been waiting to see for years.” On Monday night he joked about this, adding if this were really the case the gig would be over after 15 minutes, although he did add that these were the songs he thought fans 'might' like to hear. He certainly cast his net wide album-wise, with 15 Todd and 1 Utopia album covered in the set list. He may have not been playing every fan's favourite songs, but he was certainly trying to cover most of his albums. As a result it covered a wide variety of his career and allowed him to dip in and out of some of the different styles he's used over it – power pop, rock, blues, soul, bosa nova etc.

For me, when I see Todd, it is always nice to catch songs I haven't seen live before so: Real Man, Determination, Lucky Guy, Espresso, Lost Horizon and Drive – all ticked that box this time around, and all were good, and in the case of Lost Horizon it was one of the highlights of both nights. Other highlights on Monday were: Buffalo Grass, Hawking, I'm So Proud / Ooo Baby Baby / La La Means I Love and Determination. On Wednesday it was Can We Still Be Friends?, It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference, Drive and Hello It's Me that took the honours.

Of the two nights Monday was certainly the vocally better of the nights, with Todd certainly hitting all the right notes during the middle slow tempo/soul numbers. Wednesday night was a bit more suspect all round vocally, with Todd seeming to have a bit of a croaky voice (not that he mentioned this or tried to use it as an excuse), but it did mean that even a die-hard like me was wincing at a number of moments – not that anyone around me seemed to notice or care. On Monday, as has been the case on a number of occasions over the past decade it was clear that whilst I (and many of his fans) prefer the more rocky tunes, vocally it is on the slower more soulful songs where his voice really belongs.

There has been on on-going riff through this tour where the band fail to come in at the right time for Hello it's Me at various points during the set and then get it right for the encore. Mildly amusing, but more so when they did it just after Todd had called a halt to the start of Hawking on Wednesday night, after even he had spotted a seriously dude note. A tease that was greeted with a humorous 'oh fuck off' to the band.

Set list: Real Man / Love of the Common Man/ Buffalo Grass/ Kindhearted Woman/ Determination/ Lucky Guy/ Can We Still Be Friends? / Espresso / Love Is the Answer / It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference/ Lost Horizon / Flaw/ Soul Brother/ I'm So Proud / Ooo Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / I Want You/ Hawking / I Saw the Light/ Courage / Drive / Couldn't I Just Tell You? / Encore: Hello It's Me/ A Dream Goes on Forever

He's off to Ronnie Scott's for a final UK gig this Saturday (not going to that one) , where the band wont be playing this set, but playing two 70 minute sets – one blues, one bosa nova instead [the vote in the audience on Weds was for the bosa nova set to be the first one]. Would have quite fancied the Bosa Nova set.