Todd Rundgren | ‘An Evening With Todd Rundgren: Live At The Ridgefield’
Blame cheaper HD cameras. Concert films are now as ubiquitous as self-published books on Amazon or GarageBand recordings on SoundCloud. So, for new releases to stand out, they need to offer more than crystal clear visuals. They need to offer something exceptional: like spirited performances, a classic setlist, and stellar audio.
‘An Evening With Todd Rundgren’, recorded live on 15 December 2015, more than delivers on all counts.
As soon as the singer/songwriter/producer strides onto the Ridgefield Playhouse stage and utters a verbal pelvic thrust – “huh” – into the microphone, it’s clear this will be a show to remember. Opening the set with high-energy back-to-back renditions of ‘I Saw The Light’, ‘Love Of The Common Man’ (including ballbusting falsetto), and ‘Open My Eyes’ only reinforces that notion. Only after he’s powered through the opening track of his band Nazz’s 1968 debut album (complete with psychedelic guitar solo and pogo jumping) does Rundgren stop for a breath and a joke, calling this the “walking dead” tour.
But, despite the advancing age of the men on stage – keyboard player John Ferenzik, guitarist Jesse Gress, drummer Prairie Price, and bassist Kasim Sulton – there’s no zombie in sight. In fact, throughout the 110-minute career-spanning performance, Rundgren performs like a man still in love with the music, punctuating chord changes with high kicks, throwing his head back between verses, even closing his eyes during his solo on the muscular ‘Black And White’.
That passion ties together a set covering more than 40 years – and almost as many styles. He becomes the world’s funkiest and most nimble-footed scientist on early ‘90s boogie ‘Love Science’; gets deeply soulful on ‘I’m So Proud’ and ‘Ooh Baby Baby’; turns on the bossa nova with ‘I Want You’; preaches the healing power of 2015’s tender ballad ‘Soothe’; and rocks out like it’s 1955 on Nazz’s blistering ‘Kiddie Boy’.
By the time ‘Hello It’s Me’ and Utopia’s swinging ‘One World’ bring the show to a close, he’s gleefully conducting an audience who, by now, are all out of their seats. It’s a show full of such moments – and not just hi-def footage – that makes a concert film stand out.