Todd Rundgren and his all-star band rolled into London last night for what will be remembered as a career defining concert - the British concert premiere of his 1973 epic album "A Wizard, A True Star."
The concert has been highly anticipated for a year now. Rundgren opened the show with a 30 minute set entitled Todd Rundgren's "Johnson." Todd (vocals, guitar), Kasim Sultan (bass), Jesse Gress (guitar) and Prairie Prince (drums)performed their own renditions of bluesman Robert Johnson. An album's worth of material is to follow in the coming months.
I was very sceptical about how Rundgren would pull off re-creating the music from Wizard and how he would keep the audience's attention. But like some outerspace theatrical glam rock, tongue and cheeck rock concert, the minute Todd walked on stage dressed in NASA astronaut's suit, you new this show was going to be on par with David Bowie's famous farewell Ziggy Stardust gig (at the same Hammersmith Apollo venue).
But this was Rundgren's defining moment. There were rock star moments in a rock and roll circus spetacle that was chaotic, fun and emotionally uplifting, and at times, heartfelt and poignant. Wizard was the album that defined a generation, and although it was originally panned by critics when it was released in 1973, it has since been namechecked by tons of young British bands.
Not only did the album combine several music genres and styles, but it also told the rollercoaster story of a psychedelic trip as driven by one of pop's greatest DIY wonders.
The costume changes brought back the theatricality of when rock and roll shows were an event. I don't know if Rundgren did this concsiously, but I haven't witnessed something theatrical like this since David Bowie stunned audiences with his memorable Diamond Dogs tour.
Vocally, Todd sounded impeccable. His Philly soul stylings touched a nerve, particularly when he sang the soul medly I'm So Proud / Ooh Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / Cool Jerk.
When Bobby Strickland told everyone to get up on their feet during Cool Jerk, suddenly the gig skyrocketed into orbit with Hungry for Love, I Don't Want To Tie You Down, Is It My Name? and the encore One Last Victory.
As the concert drew to a close, the sold out 3,500 strong crowd, stood on their toes with wild applause. Todd Rundgren conquered London. It will be interesting to see what the 'True Star' will do next.
As we left the venue, there was a stall selling the entire concert on USB stick. The USB is available to order online from http://concert-online.com/en/artist/25886/Todd-Rundgren.html
Photo Credit: (c) John Rahim