Carefree Theater, West Palm Beach 11.20.97
by Michelle Harris
Todd Rundgren: Lounge Lizard? I couldn't imagine it when I heard Todd would be doing a lounge style show. I knew I had to be there.
After convincing a hesitant friend to go to the performance, we arrived at the theater. The first thing I noticed was a complete replication of a Hawaiian tiki bar on stage. I had no idea what to expect next.
My friends and I separated to find our seats (of course, with all my clout I was stuck in the second to last row). Opening the show was a comedian. His act was done as if he was at a real Hawaiian tiki lounge, and to my surprise he wasn't bad. As Todd was going on, I noticed the side of the stage actually had tables, chairs and a bar. Members of the audience were picked to go on stage and sit at the lounge. The on-stage, Hawaiian-shirted waiters (who I imagine were part of the crew), served what appeared to be drinks in huge glasses, laden with umbrellas. As I was trying to figure out what was going on, I discovered my friend was lucky enough to have been picked to sit on stage. This was the same friend that almost didn't come with us, and now Todd was singing in her face. Funny the way things work out.
Todd Rundgren proceeded to do his entire show in the lounge motif. His songs were re-arranged lounge style, to the point where it took me a minute to recognize many of them. The lounge theme was interesting, but after an hour of lounge music a la Todd, the infatuation had worn off, just in time for intermission. The comedian who had opened the show did a second set.
In true lounge tradition, when intermission was over, Todd took the stage wearing a sarong and flip flops which he soon kicked off. The lounge arrangements continued. Since it was my first time seeing Todd, I would have liked to have seen some songs in their familiar arrangements, but I couldn't help but be in awe of Todd's musicianship and stage presence. His band was fantastic, and included former members of the Tubes. Todd joked with the audience and the on-stage bar patrons.
Towards the end of the show, the program director from Palm Beach classic rock station The Gator,who had been at the on-stage bar, had water thrown on him (very realistically) by an offended female, also from the onstage bar. This appearently had been set up before the show and Todd played along with the gag well.
The show ended with Todd disappearing from a cloud of smoke for his encores. Just as I thought my evening was over, my friends decided they had some memorabilia they wanted to get signed. Ever the important music industry professional, I had no after-show passes. We decided to humiliate ourselved by waiting at the tour bus. After 50 minutes or so, Todd came to his bus. Instead of ignoring the throngs of fans who were also by the bus, he graciously signed all his fans items and posed for photos.
Todd Rundgren definitely surpased my expectations. You can always expect something different from him -- it's easy to see why his career has spanned over two decades.