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Review: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Acclaimed singer, songwriter, producer Todd Rundgren is back in Australia for his first tour here since 2018 and last night he made a triumphant return to the Corner Hotel, a venue he knows well.

Support band Sex on Toast were fun, an eight piece outfit combining prog rock and yacht rock, with elements of Zappa. They told us a debut album, to be called Pegasus is on it’s way. Their material consists of some slick, melodic songs featuring fabulous harmonies, as well as a few looser, rockin’ tunes which showcased their considerable musical chops.

Sex On Toast

As per Todd’s last Australian tour, he once again called upon his talented Australian backing band consisting of Davey Lane on guitar and vocals, Luke Hodgson on bass, Tony Featherstone on keys and Sam Raines on drums.

Rundgren opened with Real Man, a track I first heard off Todd’s 1978 live album Back to The Bars, a record I played so much I wore it out and needed to buy a second copy. From the get-go Todd was in fine voice. Last time I saw him play the Corner Hotel he was suffering from some kind of throat infection and probably shouldn’t have performed. No problem this time however as the band charged into a joyous version of Love Of The Common Man, another song which appears on Back To The Bars record.

The Corner Hotel was packed, surprisingly consisting of a good mix of baby boomers, all the ‘Gens’ and a few millennials too, all of which seemed to have a good knowledge of the man’s back catalogue.

And  the hits began early. I Saw the Light came in at tune 5 and the audience were more than happy to help Todd out on vocals.  Rundgren has such a distinctive sound, which you not only hear in his own music but in those artists whose albums he has produced too. Take Dragon’s 1986 album Dreams of Ordinary Men for example, it has Todd’s sonic stamp all over it and would have been a completely different record on another producers watch.

Davey Lane kicked off vocals on Todd’s gorgeous tune Puzzle from the 2022 Space Force album, an album Davey appears on. Down With The Ship, also from Space Force  followed. Part sea shanty, part latin dance tune, it gave the band a chance to jam out some fun. Todd’s immense respect for Davey Lane as a musician is obvious as he told us he’d be limiting his own guitar playing in the presence of Lane’s superior instrumental skills.

Like many artists who have enjoyed enduring hits, this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer makes no secret of the fact he’d prefer not to play them live but does so out of fan obligation. Can We Still Be Friends from the Hermit of Mink Hollow album is arguably his biggest claim to fame and again, he leaves large sections of the tune to the elated audience to sing.

An encore brought the band back for International Feel and the legendary Hello It’s Me.  Just One Victory, the final song of the night was stretched out and jammed hard on by Todd’s incredibly proficient band. Packed into the Corner Hotel to experience one of music’s most celebrated artists aint such a bad way to spend a Thursday night.

Todd plays Brisbane tonight, followed by Sydney

Friday, February 23 – The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets here

Saturday, February 24 – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Tickets here

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