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.