An Evening With Todd Rundgren: Live at the Ridgefield
Todd isn’t slowing down – a couple of new studio albums just last year, and now a big show; yet another live album. It depends of course what Todd you get, and the Todd you get is – usually – the Todd that feels like turning up. He’s still (and always) capable, but it’s whether he can be bothered. The one time I had a chance to see him he phoned in a set of cod-blues covers with a local pick-up band. Then, just to show you (and maybe remind himself) that he really is Todd he knocked it out of the park with a two-song encore of I Saw The Light and Can We Still Be Friends. He can be so frustrating.
This version of Todd Rundgren is similar to the one that went out on the road in support of Liars around a decade ago. That remains a high point. And there are some moments here that rival. First of all, this is a pretty wonderful setlist – all the hits and near-hits as well as some total obscurities from Nazz, Utopia and this most sprawling and idiosyncratic of solo careers. All the big 70s hits are lined up though – we kick off with a pretty stonking rendition of I Saw The Light, and then mid-set and towards the end we have Friends, Hello It’s Me, Bang The Drum All Day and others.
We get a radically reworked Lost Horizon, the stomping guitar workout that is Black Maria and in the bonus tracks (there are a handful of different versions, from 10-track single EP to 12-track single CD to big double album and a DVD option too) we get God Said from Liars. Indeed the setlist stretches from The Nazz to last year’s Global. And somehow it manages to tick all boxes, does its best to appease all fans – and yet still in that weirdly wonderful way that Todd has, where you know he’s actually just pleasing himself – first. Foremost.
An Evening With Todd Rundgren can sometimes mean just him and the piano, other times it’s him and a local pick-up band, there’s even been a version where Todd turns up with a powerpoint, delivering a lecture.
This version – with a kick-ass band – should please devotees and intrigue newcomers. It’s almost all of the versions of Todd that can be crammed down and squeezed into a single performance. His playing chops as good as ever, that voice still there, it’s remarkable really. Imagine what he could have done if he’d had the desire all of the time, rather than just with every second, third or fourth album. Baffling, bonkers and brilliant.