Show Review: Todd Rundgren and the Fixx at the Roberts Orpheum, Friday, September 10

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After a short break, it was time for Healing. A low-key suite that was overlooked while his other band, Utopia, released two or three albums a year, Healing hardly seemed like a candidate for rediscovery. Imagine my surprise when this portion of the concert turned into the evening's highlight.

For one thing, it took a lot less staging. Other than a ten-piece choir from Webster University (who looked adorably thrilled to be there), the setup was relatively simple - keyboards, guitars and vocals. Freed from the shuffling around and jagged mood changes, Rundgren seemed to be having more fun, happily dancing around and imbuing each song with an quasi-gospel fervor. This was appropriate, since much of Healing references religious devotion and imagery without subscribing to one particular faith. It took a few songs for everything to click, but by the three-part "Healing" closing suite and "Time Heals," the standing ovations were back.

Then it was time to wait for the encore. There was no doubt what it would be: "Sons of 1984," Todd's closing track. Not only had it been omitted earlier in the night, it's tailor made for live performance. "Sons of 1984" was actually recorded live at Wollman Rink in Manhattan, with the audience and Rundgren trading off on vocals. It's a moving way to end an album. Considering that the tour's official website is even titled sonsof1984.com, it was a safe bet for an encore. The band reappeared, the choir filed back onstage, and everyone sang along happily. Finally the curtain came down, but the song wasn't over -- the band kept playing, and when they finally stopped, the audience continued singing the chorus for another few minutes a capella. It was a nice memory as we all emptied out of the theater into the rainy evening.

Setlist:

Todd: 1) How About a Little Fanfare? 2) I Think You Know 3) The Spark of Life 4) An Elpee's Worth of Toons 5) A Dream Goes On Forever 6) Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song 7) Drunken Blue Rooster 8) The Last Ride 9) Everybody's Going to Heaven/King Kong Reggae 10) No 1. Lowest Common Denominator 11) Useless Begging 12) Sidewalk Cafe 13) Izzat Love? 14) Heavy Metal Kids 15) Don't You Ever Learn

Healing: 1) Healer 2) Pulse 3) Flesh 4) Golden Goose 5) Compassion 6) Shine 7) Healing, Part I 8) Tiny Demons 9) Healing, Part II 10) Healing, Part III 11) Time Heals

Encore: 1) Sons of 1984

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