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Todd Rundgren

This new no-nonsense lineup marks a major departure from Rundgren's live formats of the last 10 years or so, which consisted of either the lone Todd playing with banks of computer-driven synthesizers, or of Todd-as-conductor leading an elaborate ensemble that amounted to a small orchestra. The new, simpler setting allows Rundgren to visibly have more fun with the music.

With:
Band: Rundgren, Prairie Prince, Larry Tagg, Jesse Gress, John Firenzek.

This new no-nonsense lineup marks a major departure from Rundgren’s live formats of the last 10 years or so, which consisted of either the lone Todd playing with banks of computer-driven synthesizers, or of Todd-as-conductor leading an elaborate ensemble that amounted to a small orchestra. The new, simpler setting allows Rundgren to visibly have more fun with the music.

Although most of the 15-song set was drawn from Rundgren’s forthcoming release “The Individualist,” the set also included material spanning the breadth of his extensive catalog. These older songs were well-served by the straight-ahead treatment. “Black and White” came out dark and swaggering, and chestnuts like “Number One Lowest Common Denominator” and the Utopia rocker “Hammer in My Heart” had a freshness and intensity that belied their age. Perhaps most improved by the new feel were the hip-hop-tinged “Worldwide Epiphany” and “Fascist Christ” from 1992’s “No World Order,” which under the multiple-guitar assault gained a raw potency that was lacking in prior versions.

Unfortunately, that same precision didn’t always carry over to the new material, which will be released in a special CD-ROM format. It seemed that some of the more subtly intricate passages were glossed over or just plain bludgeoned to death.

Todd Rundgren

(House of Blues; 999 seats; $ 25)

Production: Presented inhouse. Reviewed June 12, 1995. Todd Rundgren has once again reinvented himself musically, this time in front of a taut, guitar-heavy five-piece band that brings new energy to Rundgren's older work but occasionally struggles with the new material.

Cast: Band: Rundgren, Prairie Prince, Larry Tagg, Jesse Gress, John Firenzek.

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