Although not a huge fan in my younger years, Todd Rundgren grew on me as I matured. There are several reasons for this:
- When I joined Tom Limbaugh's band back in the late 80's, Tom had been working with Producer and Engineer, Chris Andersen, who had a long association with Todd, Utopia, and Roger Powell. I gained a different appreciation for Todd through this small degree of separation.
- I have huge respect for Roger Powell, Todd's old keyboard player. Roger Powell was a forward looking visionary, and adept programmer. He contributed to many innovations that we use today with the digital production of music.
- I had seen Todd perform on episodes 23 and 40 of Live from Daryl's House, and both were excellent.
As a result, I hemmed and hawed over going to this show for several weeks. Originally, I had planned on going to a Kings X show, and was thinking that this would be the second time I missed Todd in 2 or 3 years, coming through Austin. Fate intervened however, and the Kings X show was cancelled after their drummer had a heart attack.
An afternoon phone call from my friend Ron, got me thinking about the show again. So, I decided to go. This turned out being one of the most bizarre shows, that I've seen in a long time.
Todd's band included the following musicians:
Although I don't know Jesse, I know of him, since his brother Drew, has played bass with my old piano teacher, John Esposito, on numerous gigs and recordings.
As they started the set, it was immediately obvious that Todd was sick, and his voice was shot. At the end of the second song, he says (paraphrased),
You may have noticed that I'm not in the greatest physical condition to sing tonight. Before this is over, we will probably have a Karaoke show.
He did several more songs, before he actually did start looking for volunteers to sing a song. He went through 4 in all, with the first being rejected because she didn't know the lyrics. Of the remaining 3, only one was really able to almost sing in key. Todd then closed out the set with his band, trudging through it.
In hindsight, I think that this was a stretch of professionalism, and things would have been better if he had cancelled the gig and rescheduled it. I'm still considering whether I will attempt to see him again, should the occasion arise.