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Joe Jackson & Todd Rundgren at the Beacon Theater

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I posted this today on my own blog, Between Wisdom and Murder. It’s more of a personal anecdote than a proper concert review, but I decided to repost it here as a service to anyone who might be wondering (like I was) what this show is like. Joe and Todd have plenty of dates left on the tour. So anyway…

Yeah, I know, I’ve been to the Beacon twice in less than a week. As our common sense seems to be inversely related to our age, Jim and I made the trek into Manhattan on a work night (well, for Jim at least, since I had the foresight to take the day off) to catch a show. Remarkably, we made good time getting into the city, parked in a cheap, well-situated garage on West End Avenue, and had lots of time left over to have a casual dinner and a stroll past Central Park before the show.

So what can I say about the Joe and Todd show? Well, for starters, I really didn’t know what to expect. We’re both Joe Jackson fans and have seen him live before, so he was clearly the draw for us. Apart from “Hello, It’s Me” and a couple of his other more popular hits (Jim even has the Nazz on vinyl somewhere in the basement), you could put what I know about Todd Rundgren in a thimble and have some room left over. I had read very little about the shows beforehand so had no preconceived notion of what they might do – I knew there was an opening act called Ethel, but that was about it. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the evening. Ethel, as it turns out, is an amazing string quartet. The two men and two women who comprise this group played a wonderful array of contemporary music with a passion that would put a lot of rock musicians to shame. After Ethel’s set, Joe Jackson walked onto the stage with no introduction and no fanfare and took his place at the piano. He accompanied himself through a set consisting of a number of songs spanning most of his lengthy career, and included one that hasn’t been recorded yet (I’m hoping this means there will be a new album in the not-too-distant future). The audience seemed to consist of two groups of people – the ones who came to see Joe, and the ones who came to see Todd. Joe’s fan base is small but loyal, and he left the stage to a standing ovation at the end of his set. After a brief intermission, Todd Rundgren came onstage. I had no idea he would be so loopy and so much fun. He was dressed as if he had just escaped from some psychedelic institution; the patter he kept up between songs was funny, and his voice was good. He did a few numbers accompanying himself on the guitar, and then did a few at the piano. Truth be told, I didn’t recognize anything he played until he went to the piano and sang “Hello, It’s Me”, but the Todd folks sure seemed to be appreciative of everything else, and I was happy to be along for the ride.

At the end of Todd’s set, Joe and Ethel rejoined him on stage for a really rocking finale and encore that included “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Black Maria” (hey, I recognized that one, Todd). All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We had a nice walk back to the parking garage and got home around 1:00. The clock struck midnight as we were driving along the Cross Bronx Expressway in a torrential downpour, and Jim sang “Happy Birthday” to me; it was a pretty nifty way to get another year older, and I was really happy not to have to get up and go to work this morning.

A footnote: I really wish that people would stop drinking themselves rude before shows. I am as enthusiastic as the next person when I’m watching someone I really like perform, but the line between enthusiasm and disrespect for the performers is pretty easy to cross when you’re loaded.

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About Lisa McKay

  • HW Saxton

    Todd did the whole show solo except for
    the finale/encore?

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Todd did his whole set solo, as did Joe, except for the finale/encore.

  • Gig Conaughton

    Loved your blog and your comments. My wife and I just attended the San Diego show at Humphreys by the Bay. I loved every minute of it. I’m familiar with both artists and had seen Rundgren a few years ago.
    He is trippy. But that’s been a significant characteristic of his career, and one of the reasons his fans love him.
    Having said that, a lot of the Joe Jackson fans in San Diego did not get Todd at all. Some lady behind me screamed for him to get off the stage a couple of times.
    Todd really tested the fan’s patience when he came out by being in rough voice — then explaining offhandedly that he had been partying the night before.
    My wife, and others, I think, were disappointed in Rundgren’s less-than-serious renditions of “Hello, it’s me,” “Can’t we still be friends,” and other hits.
    But after a couple of tunes, his voice was in great shape —- and I thought the show was really good.
    The encores where all three acts joined together were fantastic.
    Definitely worthwhile.

    Gig