Monday, February 04, 2008

Todd Rundgren - Live In Indianapolis

A couple of weeks ago, just after our anniversary weekend, we travelled back to Indianapolis on a frigid Sunday evening to see one of our favorite rock artists of all time, Todd Rundgren at The Music Mill.

I have been a fan since I was 18 and we have been to numerous Todd Rundgren concerts over the years. Some have been big, extravagant rock-and-roll shows and others have been more intimate, solo appearances. We really didn’t know what to expect since Todd is now, presumably, in the sunset phase of his illustrious career. But what a roaring, glorious sunset it is...we were not disappointed. Todd is still clearly in complete command of all of his powers. His vocals were amazing and his guitar playing was probably better than it has ever been.

We arrived early and, as we waited in the crowded foyer, I was initially disappointed to find out that this sold-out general admission concert was standing room only, and by that I mean there were no chairs in the club-like venue. However, this fell to our advantage since after we walked in, we moved toward the stage and, as it turns out, spent the entire concert leaning against one of the floor monitors. It was a great vantage point to view the show and accounts for Nancy's excellent photos. We were close enough to inspect Kasim Sulton's dental work and barely 8 feet away from Todd.

It was a great concert. Todd fronted the classic 4-piece ensemble, and they were killer players, rock-and-roll prize fighters, really. With Kasim Sulton on bass, Jesse Gress on guitar, and Prairie Prince on drums, the groove was just relentless. No backing tracks, no pyrotechnics, no costumes, no fancy stage decorations, just a solid, hard-hitting, full bore rock show.

All of these guys are great musicians and if you aren't familiar with them I hope you'll follow the links to learn about their careers, but Kasim Sulton is really a gem. In his own right, he has played with and/or produced many of the top rock and pop artists. But he has been Todd's wingman for over 20 years now and, as any player will tell you, when you make music with someone for that long, the quality of pyschic communication is uncanny. They couldn't have been tighter if there guitars had been welded together. Kasim is a great singer, too, and was often featured on Todd's albums, as well as with their band, Utopia. It was fun standing at his feet all evening, watching a real pro, a gifted artist hard at work.

Todd is and has always been an outstanding artist. He is a creative singer/ songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist/ producer with a long string of hits to his name and a career that started in 1969. His most famous song, is probably still the old pop ballad, "Hello, It's Me," which, while not a bad song at all, is by no means a definitive example of his work. Other classics include "I Saw the Light" and "Light of the World, and the somewhat more recent "Bang the Drum All Day."

In addition to all of the hits, there is a huge discography of excellent, highly original music that never (or barely) broke into the mainstream radio market. While he is a master craftsman when it comes to creating a protoypical pop/rock song performance, I am really more fond of his lesser known, more visionary, idiosyncratic work. Politically liberal and religiously ambiguous (at best), he is nevertheless one of a small handful musical artists in whose passion, work ethic, and whole-hearted pursuit of new and adventurous things I've always found inspiration.


IzzyBeth said...

How cool!

Heidi said...

Cool ESPN thingy added to your blog... You like hockey, huh? We have the Iowa Stars here in Des Moines... they are not as popular as our Des Moines Bucaneers USHL team has been here longer and just has a more rowdy-type venue. I grew up a New York Islanders fan (back in the day of the Sutter brothers) and morphed into a Detroit Red Wings fan later. Cheers to hockey and to the great concert you got to see!

np said...

Nice photos.