Todd Rundgren has a virtual road trip on the books for this winter, although the literal part of it will take him and his 10-piece band only as far as Chicago, and leave them there. The legendary singer-songwriter/producer is announcing a 25-city “tour” that will target different cities around the country and, through, geofencing, make those shows available only to their given markets on those particular nights as the performances are streamed live.
The shows start with a stream aimed at Buffalo on Feb. 14 and end with one streamed to the Seattle region on March 22. Exceptions to to the geofencing limits will be made for fans who want to buy bundles of multiple shows outside their own metropolitan area. Individual show tickets are $35, with higher prices for packages that include virtual meet-and-greets, multi-show bundles or include other perks.
The venue that will serve as Rundgren’s base has not been revealed, but an announcement said that Chicago was picked as host city for the musician (who now resides in Hawaii) because its central location is in “the most convenient time zone to allow for 8 p.m. showtimes in every market.”
The Clearly Human Tour is named for the fact that Rundgren will be playing the 1989 album “Nearly Human” in its entirety every night, along with a full set of material covering the full stretch of a recording career that dates back to the early ’70s (or the late ’60s, if he deigns to include something from his original band, Nazz). The company that released the album at the time, now Warner Music Group, will be reissuing “Nearly Human” on vinyl and CD to support the virtual tour. The concept will be of interest to fans who attended earlier in-the-flesh Rundgren tours where he played albums like “A Wizard, a True Star,” “Todd” and “Healing” in their entirety.
Other artists have toyed with the idea of geo-fenced pay-per-view shows tailored to individual markets since the start of the pandemic. Rundgren is embracing it full-scale, with an announcement declaring that he “actually conceived of the idea years ago as a solution to the growing challenges of touring amidst climate change and a way to reduce his own carbon footprint.”
The band, while larger than Rundgren’s usual touring unit, will include faces familiar to anyone who’s seen his concerts in recent years or even going back to Utopia days. As almost always, former Utopia cohort Kasim Sulton will be on hand as bassist and harmony singer, with Prairie Prince, of Rundgren’s former production client the Tubes, on drums. Gil Assayas, who was drafted for a 2018 Utopia reunion tour when that group’s original keyboard players couldn’t make it, is staying on with Rundgren on keys. A two-man horn section and trio of backup singers will be part of the lineup.
Premium ticketholders will be visible to Rundgren and, at times, the streaming audience via video monitors. Also, said the announcement, “subject to Chicago’s COVID policy regarding public gatherings in force at the time, there will be a handful of tickets available to attend in person and sit safely distanced amongst the virtual audience, with each attendee required to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the event.”
Rundgren has for decades been associated with the Roxy in West Hollywood, thanks to recording a 1978 live double-album there, and this tour brings back some of those old connections. It’s being produced by NoCap, described as the “brainchild” of Roxy co-owner Cisco Adler, the son of the club’s co-founder Lou Adler.
Tickets for Rundgren’s virtual tour can be purchased here.
Rundgren also released a new holiday single Thursday, a cover of an obscure (to Americans) and strange 1978 Christmas song “Flappie,” by Dutch comedian Youp van ’t He, that has remained popular in the Netherlands over the decades.
The Clearly Human Tour schedule:
February 14: Buffalo, NY
February 16: Albany, NY
February 17: New York City, NY
February 19: Virginia Beach, VA
February 20: Pittsburgh, PA
February 22: Cleveland, OH
February 23: Detroit, MI
February 25: Indianapolis IN
February 26: Chicago, IL
February 28: Madison/Milwaukee, WI
March 1: Minneapolis, MN
March 3: Kansas City, MO
March 4: St. Louis, MO
March 6: Nashville, TN
March 7: Dallas, TX
March 9: Houston, TX
March 10: Austin, TX
March 12: Denver, CO
March 13: Salt Lake City, UT
March 15: Phoenix AZ
March 16: San Diego, CA
March 18: Los Angeles, CA
March 19: San Francisco, CA
March 21: Portland OR
March 22: Seattle WA