Monday, August 25, 2008

todd rundgren is a punk

I mean that as a compliment.

I caught his Sgt. Pepper show the other night and was blown away. Not just by the music, although Rundgren's performances of Mr. Kite and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds were stellar. As were Denny Laine (once with the Moody Blues and Wings) on Within You Without You, Christopher Cross on When I'm 64 and Bo Bice's guitar work on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Unfortunately, the other headliner, Foreigner's Lou Gramm, was not up to par, missing cues and seeming to be in a separate time zone from his fellow performers. They all played their own hits to open the show, with the second act featuring that most famous of Beatles albums, a record that most folks know by heart, and have had as a part of their lives.

But what really made the evening a treat, and kept it all together, was Rundgren, who owned the stage from the moment he stepped out to perform his hits Open My Eyes, I Saw the Light and Bang on the Drum, a personal anthem for me these days, as I struggle to get back to art-making while still having to put up with a frustrating, but necessary, job.

I remember liking Rundgren when I was a tween, still too young to go to concerts (Dad would have never allowed that!) By the time I was old enough to do such things (basically, getting out of the house and on my way), the Clash, Squeeze and the Police were my main focus. But reading (and sometimes writing) about music kept his name in the background, mostly hearing about his producing work, which was also impressive.

What really touched me the other night was that the spirit of punk, or rock, or whatever it is that floats your boat, was alive and well and flourishing. And we could all channel into it. You can still make your art, bang your drum, bleach your hair, do whatever it is that makes you who you are. We are all a product of our history, our tastes, our shared moments. Sgt. Pepper was the vehicle, the shared consciousness.

Rock on Todd, keep challenging that inner punk and I will, too.


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