Big thanks to MMMikey, who was kind enough to give me two tickets to see Todd Rundgren and Joe Jackson at the Ryman last night. Although I had already read several reviews from the tour, I was not quite prepared for how cool it was. I'm a fan of Joe since the Laughter and Lust CD and really have delved into his catalogue and followed his adventures in musical genres since. With Todd, I am mainly aware of how most musicians consider him a genius, but I only knew of a few of his hits and the music of 2nd Wind and TR-I.
Opening act Ethel made us quite aware that we were in for an interesting night. They are an intriguing string quartet who don't seem bound to any one genre. Incidentally, if you liked their music so much that you simply must have some thong underwear with their logo upon it, well here you go.
Joe came out and got right to his hits and really made my night. With trenchcoat on, and looking somewhat like a condor, he absolutely had me transfixed. In addition to playing what I loved, he played a song that had gotten past me called "Love At First Light." He remarked in preface that he had gotten both very negative responses to the subject of the song and also very positive responses. With all that I know of romance and tenderness, I fail to see why anyone would see anything but sweet and affirming love in it. But that's a beauty of art. It's just so subjective and you learn about yourself by what you take from it.
And then Todd took the stage, solo as well. And I saw many people leave early into his set. They had their reasons, and admittedly, I was in agreement with them. But I'm glad I wasn't moved to leave. Just he and a guitar, bellowing and strumming, Todd wasn't doing much for me. But little by little, song by song, interjection by interjection, he was winning me over. At set's end, I only wanted so much more. I wondered if he would bow to pressure to play the hit "Bang The Drum All Day." After all, there were no drums. Just the artist, a piano, and some guitars. Well, I didn't see the ukelele. Of course. So he played his big hit with nothing but a ukelele. And it sounded great. On a sidenote, the tune that really got me involved emotionally was "Pretending To Care." Some great lines, and what a wonderful take on the insecurities we bring into our relationships.
In closing, Joe Jackson and Ethel returned to the stage to join Todd in some really fun songs, including some great Beatles covers. My dad's only real criticism of the show became mine as well. These are great artists, but they really needed even the smallest of bands behind them. Just some drums maybe to provide some bottom to the overall sound. When Ethel backed them in the end, the overall improvement to the songs was quite obvious. And appreciated. It's hard to see why these performers, who are just brilliant musicians and showmen, didn't see that. That said, it was an event I'm glad I didn't miss. Thanks to the artists. I'll catch you next time you come around.
On a more personal level, had I known that I would find myself seated next to the absolute prettiest of bloggers (I can say that because my beautiful wife doesn't yet have a blog), I would have at least shaved my scruffy face before stepping out. It was nice to meet her, and her little friend too. If Peter Frampton comes to town, she'll be the first person I tell.