It was the ultimate in rock geekdom: Cult hero Todd Rundgren playing his influential, obscure and cult-loved 1973 album “A Wizard, A True Star” in concert Tuesday at the State Theatre.First, we had to sit through a set of Utopia tunes played by Todd and three other guys (Roger Powell, Kasim Sulton, Prairie Prince) in plain white T’s and black jeans.
After intermission came “A Wizard, A True Star” with an expanded band (including Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes, saxist/keyboardist Bobby Strickland and guitarist Jesse Gress), white tuxedos with tails for the six musicians, and a series of colorful costumes for Todd.
Back in 1973, this music was experimental, adventurous and oddly eclectic. On Tuesday, it was merely a curious grab bag of unbridled creativity as Todd traveled through vaudeville, R&B ballads, prog rock, Broadway, hard rock, cabaret, pop, etc.
With the sound something less than stellar (Todd’s vocals were difficult to decipher much of the night), the costumes may have been as fun as the music.
To be sure, some of these costumes came out of the closet and had to be let out. Several were quite a trip like the feather-and-lame ensemble that looked like something Cher might have worn in her video for “Half Breed” or the Dreamsicle-orange suit (and electric orange satin-like shirt) that Rundgren sported for his R&B medley of “Ooh Baby Baby” and “La La Means I Love You.”
Near the end, when a truly rockin’ Todd was carrying on with scraggly, sweaty hair in an outdated outfit with a slight paunch and a puffy face, he suggested Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.” But when he ended by slipping on a gold lame-like suit with oversized Elvis-like sunglasses to perform “Just One Victory,” it was clear that Todd the Rock God still rules.
For me, the “AWATS” experience wasn’t as rewarding as seeing Brian Wilson and his band do “Pet Sounds” in concert. But for all the Rundgren runts, they went ga-ga.
Todd Rundgren, performing Tuesday at the State.
Photo by J Bloomrosen (click to expand).