Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rock Reunions

Our high school-aged son plays guitar and drums in a local rock band. They've worked up to playing small venues around town and a couple of weeks ago played the Creepy Crawl near the Fox. The other guitarist in the band is from Fenton, and he had some of his relatives at the show, including a nice Aunt and Uncle we met for the first time. We're all there to support our young people as they venture out on stage in front of audiences.

One of the cool things about St. Louis is that it's very much like a small town. Bumping into friends and acquaintenances out in public is a common thing around here. Same goes for last night. Todd Rundgren was on tour performing at the Pageant (pictured above with bass player, Rachel Haden).

On the way inside, we bumped into the aunt and uncle of son's Fenton bandmate we met a couple weeks earlier at the Creepy Crawl. Turns out they're old Todd fans too. For the show, we brought young son and his girlfriend. Between the two of them, son had never been to the Pageant, and she had never heard of Todd Rundgren.

Opening up was a 3-piece local rock band named "Logos". Not much older than our son, the band has 2 eighteen year old guitar players and a 22 year old drummer. Son and his date thoroughly enjoyed these guys. They were straight forward, high energy rock and rollers. So even if they weren't to appreciate TR, they had a music snack with Logos. Not to worry. TR would not disappoint.

He opened the show with a shout out to Beatle Bob and then went into "Love in Action". Todd's new record is called "Arena" and it's all about guitar rock. Nothing subtle about it and not an acoustic guitar in sight. The band had four guitars, four part vocal harmony, and powered the house for two hours.

We were on the floor, ten feet from the stage. At sixty, Rundgren looks great. Hopefully he still has a few tours left. One of the cool things about last night's show was the way our fifteen year old son and his girlfriend could see the loyal fans attending the concert. Most of these these fans have followed Rundgren for 30 plus years. It's like a big family.

If your impression of TR is mostly based on "Bang The Drum All Day", "I Saw the Light", and "Hello It's Me", there's a whole world of music he's created far beyond those popular successes. It's worth some checking around. Lots of old videos are on the net.

This was the 6th or 7th time I've seen him perform, and except for losing a little in his voice, this show was no less enjoyable than any of the others. Given the years of enjoying his music, maybe even more.

It was back in high school in the 1970s when we started listening to Todd Rundgren. And it was one of our friends, a great guy named Victor, who got us all started listening to him. Victor was a good friend, and remembering back, my first guitar student. We went to a couple of Todd shows together and even started our own band named after one of Rundgren's lesser known songs. I still have the T-shirt. This was late-70s, San Francisco Bay Area.

After high school, we all went separate ways. Victor moved across the Bay to San Francisco and joined the City's growing gay community. We never saw him again, but heard he had died sometime around 1982 from AIDS. He was one of the early victims of the disease. Back then, there were pretty much no treatments for it. At last night's show we remembered Victor and know he would have loved to have been there with us. He was in spirit.


Anonymous said...

Great review Rick. Wish I could have made the show. I also wish I could have seen him play with Utopia at Winterland but I think I was too young at the time. I did saw him several times at the Old Waldorf in SF and other venues as well. It's just difficult to remember, where, well, it was in the 70's, remember?

The first Todd album I ever bought was Initiation, kind of an Eastern oriented highly synthesized mostly keyboard work. The radio play song on this album is a song titled, "Real Man"....when I was a child,I thought as a child, I spoke as child, I didn't know better,....but now I'm a man. (just a few of the lyrics from that song.) Victor did take me to my first Todd concert and I too have been a loyal listener ever since.

We all lost Victor too soon. I think of him often, his swimming, artwork, his volunteer work, the list goes on and on, but most especially I miss his friendship. Losing a friend like that has created a void in my life - he was special.

But life does go on and I know he wants all of us to be strong healthy and to contribute something to this world. The Real Man song ends with a stanza something like this, "don't sell yourself for nothing, don't take no crap from no one, get your trip together, be a real Man." Great advice I think.

Glad you all had fun.


Garry Sullins said...

Rick, I couldn't find a way to contact you, so I'm sorry I'm leaving a comment as a way to reach you.

I recently acquired (notice the extension, 'me', just released, as of July 17, 2008). I am currently helping local St. Louis organizations become aware of its availability, as it is currently up for sale on the open market, at SEDO. I'd like to see the domain fall into the right hands, at the right price. I am also contacting other St. Louis organizations/companies to raise awareness and interest, including the Post-Dispatch, Lambert Airport and the City of St. Louis.

Would you be interested in discussing the domain any further?

Feel free to contact me at anytime, via email.

Best regards,
Garry Sullins
JGS Media Group

Gordon D said...

Have to agree re: Todd Rundgren - it's a shame that nowawdays, he's probably better known for touring with the New Cars than his solo work, production work, and his work with Utopia.

He's probably one of the few artists I can think of that has done so much in various genres of music that has great quality.