In his musical career spanning just over 5 decades, Todd Rundgren has done everything from writing, singing, producing, playing guitar, being a solo artist, and a member of Ringo Starr's All Starr Band from 2012-2017. Every time I’ve seen Rundgren solo each show was very different.
Back in 1973, Rundgren formed the band Utopia. For the 13 Years together, Utopia released 10 albums with hits. Just after the first three years of the band, it became a four piece and was more pop/rock oriented now 3/4 of their longest running line up is back and Tuesday night they played at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, CA. Utopia consists of Rundren (Guitar/ Lead Vocals), Kasim Sulton (Bass/Lead & Backing Vocals), John “Willie” Wilcox (Drums, Lead and Backing Vocals), and newest member keyboardist Gil Assays who was chosen as a replacement for Roger Powell who left just before the tour started.
Along with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, YES, and Genesis, Rush, Utopia was at the forefront of the prog-rock emergence in the 70s. Like all great prog-rock bands of that era, Utopia had both intricate instrumental pieces and more pop-rock style hits. Just like any great prog-rock band a big stage production is an essential part of the show. For Utopia, there were two risers for both drums and keyboards, great lighting system, and a big screen with graphics that really made this show extra special.
The show was broken into two sets with a 20-minute intermission in between. The show kicked off with “Utopia Theme,” With somewhat lengthy songs, the first four songs of the show was equal to 30 minutes. After the third song “Another Life,” Rundgren said “We'll call that part a blizzard but since those don't happen here we'll call it a brush fire referencing the heavy prog-rock songs they just played.” Utopia then performed “Do Ya,” originally recorded by the band The Move and became a big hit for ELO later on and appeared on Utopia’s 1975 “Another Live.” Set one ended with “Last of The New Wave Riders.”
Set two resumed with “The Road to Utopia.” During intermission the band changed outfits and there were no risers. I would describe it as stripped down and much more pop-rock oriented and highlighting both phases of Utopia’s music. Set two included “I Will Wait,” “Rock Love,” “Love Is the Answer,” and ended with an encore of Rundgren’s “Just One Victory.”
The tour ends on June 5th at The Fox Performing Arts Center in Pomona, CA. then Rundgren will start his own tour on July 25th in Salisbury, MA at the “Blue Ocean Music Hall.”