Todd Rundgren House of Blues Monday, March 26
Billed as a "greatest hits" tour, Todd Rundgren's show last night at the House of Blues was a textbook presentation of his professionalism. Even dogged by a nasty cold and throat issues, Rundgren and his band delivered over two hours of classic power-pop and neo-soul, including classics "Can We Still Be Friends," "I Saw the Light," "Couldn't I Just Tell You" and "Hello, It's Me."
In between the expected fare, Rundgren threw in some pleasant surprises, including a great rendition of Smokey Robinson's "Ooo Baby Baby." Besides the aforementioned pop hits, the night was mostly devoted to Rundgren's obsession with soul and blues. His take on Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman" packed a wallop.
Early on, Rundgren appeared weary. He apologized for his voice, saying, "Just pretend you're at a Meatloaf show." As the night progressed, Rundgren adapted to his lower register and turned songs like "Soul Brother" and "Determination" into funky excursions that mixed Barry White with new wave. The surprisingly packed Monday night crowd was appreciative of just about anything Rundgren had to offer.
Even at 63, he continues his chameleon-like ways. Rundgren can (and has) done almost everything, from a cappella to electronica, and refuses to capitulate to any single genre. There may not be anyone else like him. He is that singular a talent. Let's just hope he takes some Nyquil and gets some rest.
Personal bias: Even as a teenager, I was in awe of Todd Rundgren. He was the whacked-out pop star who always did things his own way. Even my parents liked him.
By the way: Those fans with (a lot of) extra cash ought to think about attending Todd Rundgren's Musical Revival Camp which takes place July 23-27 at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY. REM's Peter Buck will be there to add to the naturalistic festivities. I know if my wife would let me, I would go.