Although I’ve always enjoyed Todd Rundgren's music, I was never a huge fan of his 1973 album Todd. I found it too inconsistent and hodge-podge. The electronic noodling and screaming guitars did nothing for me. Todd, the master of melody and purveyor of pop, was more my cup of tea.
So when it was announced that Rundgren would be performing the Todd album in its entirety live, it did nothing to excite me. Something/Anything? Yeah. Hermit of Mink Hollow? Yes, please. But Todd live? I would have to be convinced that this was something worth experiencing.
In 2010, Rundgren performed the album as part of a special limited six-date sold out tour. The September 14 date at Philadelphia’s Keswick Theater (Rundgren’s hometown) was videotaped and is now available as Todd, a live DVD, which is also available as an audio CD.
The good news is that watching the performance made me appreciate the Todd material more than I had before, possibly because the show is definitely a show, something to behold. The band is a masterful group of players consisting of Utopia’s Kasim Sulton (bass), The Cars’ Greg Hawkes (keyboards), The Tubes’ Prairie Prince (drums), Guitar Player magazine editor Jesse Gress (guitar), Bobby Strickland (sax), and a full choir. Todd and his musicians are clad in sparkly, colorful wizard attire. Heck, even the instruments are decorated with swirls, sparkles, and glitter. The light show and smoke harken back to the days when platform shoes and bell-bottom trousers were all the rage. It all serves to enhance the eclectic, psychedelic bent of the music.
Todd is quite the showman, occasionally leaving his instruments to emote center stage. This works especially well with his amusingly over the top reading of Gilbert and Sullivan's “Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song.” Drummer Prairie Prince also gets a chance to shine with a tap dancing solo during "Useless Begging."
All in all, if you're a Todd Rundgren fan, the Todd video and its companion CD are worth a look and a listen, even if the original album wasn’t exactly to your liking.