In A long and varied career, encompassing psych rock, piano balladry, prog rock, even bossa nova, not to mention production duties for the likes of Meat Loaf, Sparks and New York Dolls, Todd Rundgren has been ahead of the curve technologically and out of fashion musically, but always worth checking in with.
Todd Rundgren - ABC, Glasgow
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Much of his 45-year back catalogue was bypassed on this self-styled Official State Visit, in favour of material from his current album, State, plus complementary covers and selections from his Liars and No World Order albums, but the hi-tech set-up, involving a fair amount of pre-programmed material, and theatrical presentation, with Rundgren flanked by a drummer and guitarist in matching chimp T-shirts and goggles, was familiar from previous tours.
Rundgren demonstrated his disregard for a creative comfort zone from the off, following the anthemic, dynamic electro-prog of Imagination with the trancey pop of Truth, melody and synthesized arrangement being their only common ground. A handful of 80s-style electro rockers were not among the most distinguished entries to his canon, but the streamlined synth soundscapes of Future, the overwrought Ping Me and a version of The Tubes’ Prime Time were all fine examples of his extended musical reach. That said, dance remix renditions of New York Dolls’ Personality Crisis and his own hits Can We Still Be Friends, I Saw The Light and Hello, It’s Me stretched credulity some way.
Ultimately, this mixed bag came together to create a fascinating middle-aged rave. Lights strafed the room, making judicious use of Europe’s largest mirrorball, adherents in the audience raised their palms in adoration and Rundgren played the eccentric testifying preacher to thoroughly entertaining effect, even if the content of his sermon – and his dad dancing – occasionally left something to be desired.