Glenside PA – Picking up from where we left off with our last entry, we are in intermission of theTodd/Healing show at the Keswick Theater in Glenside PA. Whilst waiting for part two of the show, I manage to talk to some fans, as well as Doug Ford, Steve the usher who tells me that some of the more raucous songs are not only not for him, but at the back of the theater, sound like mud. THAT’S a shame. I am fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Tim Luciano, who, through his brother Pete (‘Lucky’) is friends with and grew up with Rundgren’s brother Robin Rundgren, who is here at the show along with Rundgren’s mother Ruth. Mrs. Rundgren attends many of Rundgren’s east coast shows and is a heavy contributor to Rundgren biographer Billy James’ two editions of ‘A Dream Goes On Forever, The Continuing Story Of Todd Rundgren’.
As the second half nears, we see under the curtain the movement of feet, we hear Rundgren talking and errant notes here and there. The house lights die as album 2,Healing begins. From behind closed curtain we hear Rundgren vocally proclaim ‘My child…’
“Healer” begins with the entire band dressed in Hindi Nauru jackets. Rundgren is barefoot for the second half. This album is being performed by the band, which was a surprise to me. I thought this would be a good opportunity to save on band expenses and utilize midi or some other pre-recorded form of instrumentation performance.
Human is better, always.
A choir is joining the band onstage in front of Prince. At first they are barely audible. Rundgren hits the high notes much more easily in the second half. Strickland’s electric wind device is also buried in the mix, but I can FEEL Sulton’s bass and Gress is ALL OVER the guitar part.
“Pulse” starts and the choir is dispersed. Prince’s kit is now fixed in place and is surrounded by glass to prevent bleed-through to the choir mics. We wouldn’t have heard them if they did. No guitars on this one. While I am getting a kick out of the Hindi outfits, right down to Prince’s turban, Shahrukh Khan is still the MAN!!! Rundgren’s voice is delayed like on the album so that he might duet with himself. As Rundgren moves from side to side of the stage, as this part is vocal and sequencer only, I can hear Rundgren’s feet plod on the stage.
Hawkes and Rundgren start “Flesh” by themselves. After Strickland takes the stage with a sax, the choir rejoin. Prince and Gress join for the second chorus. Rundgren hits the high note great before the break. Goosebumps!
In between songs, ‘water’ he screamed…
“Golden Goose” is in full effect and is full of humor and joviality, as is on the album. There is usually always one funny tune on a Rundgren album. Prince keeps the turbaned time midi perfect with synth drum and tambourine. Like Parsons, we clap along in a one, two, one-two-three rhythm. In the lyrics, he asks “How long can this go on, oy vey!”
During the lyrics, which are “A paparattzi’s at the door, he says he’s here from People Magazine” Rundgren then asks “Does anybody read that anymore?” during the song!
Open note to Todd: they read it online, or they watch TMZ…
Rundgren hoedowns during the chorus, Hawles provides the duck calls right to the obscenity suggesting last two duck notes.
Duck notes, not to be confused with Duck Boats, which have a tendency to sink in Philly rivers.
Again, too soon?
Sulton dons a bass and the choir returns for “Compassion”. Strickland is contributing heavy keyboards, but somewhere is an off note before the second verse. Rundgren and the conductor lead the choir through the bridge. The ending vocal ad-libs are a bit choppy. He’s sixty-two, a break please. Strickland motions to offstage that his monitor is dead. Fortunately we are at the end of the track and he can be re-outfitted.
The upright piano is wheeled out again so Rundgren can start “Shine” by himself. Fog fills the stage, which may have hurt his voice a touch, but the passion is still in tact. Once he finishes the intro portion of piano and vocal, one, long, continually building note gains in volume slowly as the piano is wheeled off, the sequencer starts and the band and choir join him onstage. From dark to full light, from near-silence to that one building note to full band explosion of dynamic.
All members are playing keyboards with Strickland once again on electric wind device, which is triggering a French horn sample. The dynamic will rise and fall a bit for that French horn break, then blast back to full. Then end is a total blow-out for all the members, and just when you think it can’t get any bigger, Rundgren pulls out the SG. Lights and band explode.
The rudeness is back as some old blond broad insists on getting in my way, my best thing to ever happen to me’s way, and the cameramen for the webcast’s way. Her friend in the front row exclaims to her as she returns to her seat (well behind us) “I love you”, I retort “I hate you” to her.
She came close to nearly clocking me in the glasses. Who will be responsible if I am struck in the eye by an errant hand clap and blinded by my glasses being driven into my retina?
Security is NOWHERE to be found. This story will get uglier later on.
The ‘B’ side from the 7” extra vinyl from the original vinyl release, “Tiny Demons” is next and Gress maintains the guitar part while Strickland adds the oddball noises originally recorded by Rundgren as pickscrapes, scratches and so on.
Sulton is singing but I don’t hear him. Strickland is taking the oddball noises and running with them. Rundgren’s voice is getting better as the night progresses.
I guess that is a good thing as “Healing Parts 1,2 and 3” are a bit taxing on the vocal chords.
Rundgren squeezes his throat, I’m not sure if that’s a symbolic gesture or if he is trying to milk his vocals.
But they don’t even take a break, right into it. Strickland puts on a sax and Sulton takes over on synth bass. Rundgren implores us to listen.
Like we haven’t been all night?
Gress joins and grooves as his keyboard. An aside here, Rundgren has asked both Strickland and Gress to step out of their comfort zones and play a heavy percentage of keyboards.
With that Playboy poll and all.
I am just relieved he has not called upon that abomination of a keyboard player, John Ferenzik to play. He was terrible on the Liarstour and every appearance he made with Rundgren. When I called him on this, he more or less said “Hey, Todd’s checks clear.” That wasn’t the point, the point was “Don’t you feel guilty taking the money from Rundgren for your substandard performance?”
I’m not a big Ferenzik fan. I hope those checks weren’t upper-scale.
A screen much like the one Adrian Belew used at World Café Live has been behind the band all night. For Healing it is generating psychedelic images galore. Strickland’s sax solo is impassioned, between his keyboard parts. Hawkes is having a great time generating the keyboard chordal structure and keeping it going. Once again, another sax solo by Strickland reaches heights and depths above and beyond the recording.
As Strickand performs in front of me, I hear his instrument above the PA. Gress is made nervous by the moving camera boom. I am fascinated by Prince’s left hand movement, striking the synth drum to his left and returning the stick above his snare to his right WITHOUT hitting the snare.
The great thing about this being live is, they can stretch out the parts as long or as short as they feel. As Strickland brings the dynamic down, they meld slowly into “Part 2”. It reduces to Prince’s bass drum, Hawkes and Sulton build the piece. Strickland returns with an actual wooden recorder for the part. At the second verse, Gress brings in the capoed guitar line. Prince adds a synth drum with discipline. Hawkes is allowing the keyboards oscillating patch to dictate the tempo. The choir returns. Rundgren ad libs the part as the dynamic is an ever-so-slight build.
Sulton fiddles with settings, Hawkes adds bird like sounds. Rundgren leaves the stage, the lyrics for “Part 2” are over. The band can once again stretch out. Hawkes seems to have difficulty with his monitor, but keeps the oscillation going. They run down the instrumentation until it is only that oscillation and Hawkes affects its alteration. As Hawkes transitions to “Part 3”, the band remains still.
“Part 3” is on and full. It is just really Sulton, Hawkes and Prince, with the choir clapping. Strickland adds keyboard melodies. I hear a little guitar feedback as Gress is offstage adjusting settings. Rundgren is belting the lyrics and stretching for the ad libs. The choir adding “You are home”. Prince is filling with all his single stroke glory. As Rundgren welcomes us home, he straps on the SG as one of the nameless choir adds vocal ad libs.
They go right into “Time Heals”. It is a little too loud, and things are starting to distort. Just like Steve the usher said was happening at the back of the theater, now is occurring throughout the theater. Gress is handling the chordal guitar structure, Rundgren plays an over-the-top solo. The musicians must love not having to provide the backing vocals.
As a tribute to my late sister, I will pause this review to sing along with the crowd as she did for the original recording of “Sons Of 1984” in Wollman Rink in New York in 1973/4.
Before the closer commences, Rundgren introduces the band. I had covered this in the first half of this review. Additionally, the choir director is announced as (I believe) Dirk Hillyard and the choir is (only) identified as the Barbara England School For The Arts singers.
There is a howling feedback coming from somewhere. I cannot detect where, and I cannot comment on the rest of the track except to say the curtain closed on the sing along chorus at the end which the audience continued well after the end of the show. Why can I not comment on the rest of the song?
Here’s is where the rudeness I mentioned earlier is explained, and I will separate this from the review under the guise of being an editorial:
EDITORIAL: During this song, every drunken lout, over-eager, under-considerate (once again, as Robert Fripp would KINDLY refer to them as) boobies rushed the front of the stage and totally eschewed the order and hierarchy of the ticket sales. Now it was one thing for Melinda Cain to come to stage front, she is one of the promoters (the odd thing was, I got better seats than Doug Ford, how the hell does THAT work?), after my best thing to ever happen to me removed one ignorant boobie from in front of her (and away from a webcast camera man) Melinda took their place. They commented to my best thing to ever happen to me “Do you want me to remove her, give you a hand?” My best thing to ever happen to me explained, “She’s the promoter, she can stand where she wants”. I moved my chair up to the front right in front of a road case being used by the webcast camera man. Well, some curly red haired drunken moron bowled my best thing to ever happen to me out of her seat, dumping her purse, containing her wallet, her data manager, several other items of value, dumping the camera bag (which contained the memory cards that retained the pictures you are seeing with this review) as well as batteries for the camera, lens covers, the battery charger and other expensive items and proceeded to trod all over them as if they weren’t there! This idiot did not care, he was too intent on shaking Rundgren’s hand, which he had no intention of doing. Furthermore, he damn near plowed Melinda Cain OVER as well as the webcast camera operator.
For the record, that webcast camera operator was witness to what happened and assisted my best thing to ever happen to me FIND one memory card that had been kicked under the road case my chair was up against, even loaning her a flashlight to help look for any items red curly haired boobie kicked, trashed and displaced.
Melinda Cain DEFENDED his actions, dismissing it as someone who was too enthusiastic trying to get Rundgren’s attention. Maybe this sort of behavior is acceptable to Ms. Cain, Mr. Ford, the entire production crew at Rundgren Radio, Rundgren’s crew, but it is NOT acceptable behavior to me.
During “Sons Of 1984”, red curly haired booby ran into Mr. Blanc (who, by the way, is a big guy) and was detained trying to get around Mr. Blanc. I had the chance to express my displeasure with red curly haired boobie man and tell him “you drunken loser, you just knocked over a working photogrpaher’s camera bag, disrupted MY job, and assaulted both my best thing to ever happen to me and the promoter!” From what Mr. Blanc informed my best thing to ever happen to me during a phone call he made to the house while I was at class, he wasn’t sure who to restrain, me or red curly haired booby man.
After reading the program while researching this post, I wish I had read it prior to the show, as it states: “Please ask your usher to inform the House Manager if anything is interfering with your enjoyment.”
Had I known this, I would have held Mr. red curly haired boobie (or better yet, had Mr. Blanc detain him by any means necessary) and gotten the ushers to call security and had red curly haired boobie man arrest for:
A) destruction of private property
B) restraint of trade
C) physical and sexual assault (he managed to grab at my best thing to ever happen to me’s breasts during the melee).
Melinda Cain was nice enough to extend an invitation to the band’s after show dinner as a way to make up for it, which was very nice, but at that point (once the music had ended, I had to GO, I mean to the bathroom, and that was an experience, a theater that seats 1200 – 1300 people, has a total of 5 relief stations, 3 exclusively for men, 2 stalls) my best thing to ever happen to me told Ms. Cain “I just want to gather my stuff (paraphrased for publication) and get the heck (once again paraphrased) out of here!”
Which we did.
To add insult to injury, one doofus looked at me and said “Oh, he must not go to a lot of rock shows”. Idiot. I have probably been to more Rundgren shows in my life than he has been to concerts overall.
I’m the one who is a syndicated critic. He was just another one of those boobies like Mr. red curly haired inconsiderate jerk, or old broad who wants to hit someone in the face, or fat broad who wants to steal seats that were paid for with my money.
But I should know better than to expect anything less from Philadelphia fans. Remember, up until recently, the local Philadelphia football franchise had a jail cell facility built right into their old stadium! It reminds me of the story my best thing to ever happen to me recalled: She was working for a major phone provider in NJ when they had a “day out” for employee appreciation (which is a paradox as I know first hand this phone provider cares LEAST about it’s employees). Part of this appreciation was the appearance of two NY Giants players, one of whom was Donovan McNabb (recently departed from the Philadelphia Eagles). McNabb took a particular shine to my best thing to ever happen to me and hit on her as hard as he gets hit by linebackers. He asked “Is it true that Philly has a jail cell in their stadium?” and was astounded by her response: “Yup!”
That jail cell has been torn down as was that stadium. Now the Philadelphia Police department stations a number of “paddy-wagons” outside the events to collect and take away the trouble-makers. The very next weekend after this show, a 17-year-old-fan, dressed in head to toe red spandex (with a full head hood, similar to a devil’s costume without horns and tail) ran onto the field of a Philadelphia Phillies home game.
Perhaps Rundgren Radio promoters should heed and follow suit and prepare for the local police department to send out the paddy wagons next time Rundgren plays Philly.
While this has left a bad taste in my mouth for live performances, my next post will be covering the Killing Joke show from December 3rd. It will be a departure from my usual style of coverage thanks to a comment posted during the first half of this review. We have our year-end review after that, then a series of album reviews. I have been so disgusted by the Philadelphia attendees, that (as some of you know from Part 1 of this review) we have decided to move into the house we inherited. FURTHER AWAY from Philly.
I will be covering more shows in New York than Philadelphia now. If I DO go to a Philly show, I will do so heavily armed.
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