Todd Rundgren – 50th Anniversary Bill Graham Presents – 85th B’day Celebration

Todd Rundgren – 50th Anniversary Bill Graham Presents – 85th B’day Celebration

Monday, 18 January 2016

Live at the Fillmore
San Francisco, CA
Friday, January 14, 2016

Review by Ted Silverman

On Friday night, January 14, I headed over to the Fillmore from my house in the hills of San Francisco in order to attend the 50th Anniversary of Bill Graham Presents and the 85th Birthday Celebration of Bill Graham.

It was a rainy night but plenty of tickets were available at the box office. I got in the hall around 8pm and missed the always fun to see T Sisters. But the place was buzzing with SF Rock-n-roll personality’s notable local musicians and rock-n-roll fans.

Upstairs in the poster room, a benefit auction for the Bill Graham Foundation was staged featuring dozens of classic Fillmore concert posters, photographs, and even signed guitars up for sale. The atmosphere was thick with well-seasoned and experienced locals who’d been around since the Acid Test days. At 51 I felt like one of the younger folks in the building.

Once the show began, Todd and his Band were raging out of the gate. Regrettably Kasim Sulton’s bass rig went south after about the 3rd song. This technical issue was eventually patched up, but Todd and band muddled through during this momentary lapse in production.

It was evident from the get go that Todd can really shred and has an incredibly confident stage presence. This is obvious for a guy who’s been famous for it for more than 45 years. Todd gave prop’s to Bill Graham and expressed heartfelt appreciation for the man, and the BGP organization who’d sponsored the majority of his live performances in the Bay Area.

Interestingly Rundgren’s three most well-known songs: “Bang on the Drum,” “Hello It’s Me,” and “Can We Still Be Friends,” feature Todd’s vocals and not his lead guitar playing, but throughout the performance he demonstrated potent lead guitar improvisations.

Rundgren’s band was more than solid as a unit and Todd can still sing like only Todd Rundgren can sing. One of the evening’s strongest vocal performances was the band’s smooth take on the Smokey Robinson chestnut “Oo Oo Oo, Baby, Baby,” white soul at its best.

There was one lingering negative aspect to the evening’s performance. The sound mix was a mess. I have come to expect hi-fidelity with this level of live performance in a venue as famous as the Fillmore. It becomes noticeable quickly when a band’s sound sucks and Todd Rundgren’s Fillmore performance did not live up to my well-conditioned (from a lot of concert-going in San Francisco) sense of audio ecstasy. The band was great but the mix was all jangle, mid-range and mud. No clarity and very little bass. Regardless of a crappy mix, the pure power of Todd and the band, performances of songs like Drive, Love in Action his more famous and classic hits really made for an entertaining show free of fluff and down moments.

Here’s a few vids I capped from the show:
Some of Todd’s Banter:

Bang on the Drum All Day

Hello It’s Me

Can We Still Be Friends?

Secret Society

Love in Action (part 1)

Love in Action – One World

We want to welcome Ted Silverman to the staff here at Ground Control Magazine as a concert reviewer for the San Francisco Bay Area. Ted Silverman is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and passionate music fan whose musical obsession extends to photography, videography and journalism.  Ted has been a semi-regular contributor to the award winning “Bluegrass Breakdown,” the official monthly Newspaper of the California Bluegrass Association.  Ted has also scribed reviews for a variety of other online and print publications covering bluegrass, jazz and jam band idioms.

Outside of journalistic pursuits Ted sings and plays guitars, mandolins and basses  with a number of local and active San Francisco based Bluegrass, Swing Jazz & Rock-n Roll bands including, “Belle Monroe & Her Brewglass Boys,” “the Savannah Blu Bluegrass Band,” “The Chazz Cats,” and Fog Swamp to name but a few.

Originally hailing from a suburban enclave of Manhattan, Ted has been a resident of San Francisco and an active concert-attendee for more than 30 years.


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