Todd Rundgren dazzles at the State Theatre


When I interviewed Todd Rundgren last week to ask him about his recent tour, I laughed in disbelief when he told me that he would go through a dozen costume changes during his show. Sure enough, as I tallied up the variety of outlandish outfits that Rundgren wore throughout the evening, it came out to an even 12. As he played his 1973 masterpiece A Wizard, A True Star from start to finish, Rundgren showcased an impressive collection of costumes (many of which were designed by his wife Michelle): At times he was an astronaut landing on the moon, a gaudy Elvis impersonator, a man in a fat suit resembling Tweedle Dee, a feathered brown bird, a swaggering chef tossing candy bars out into the audience. And that was only the first half.

Unfortunately, professional photography was only permitted during Rundgren's opening set, in which he played a set of Utopia-era songs with bandmates Roger Powell and Kasim Sulton, but you'll just have to take my word that the costuming and stage production was top-notch.

Simply put, the show was just as much of a spectacle as promised, with a six-piece backing band clad in white tuxedos doing their best to recreate the layers of sounds and effects on Rundgren's groundbreaking album, which incorporated styles as far-reaching as soul (a medley of "Ooh Baby Baby" and "La La Means I Love You"), garage rock ("Cool Jerk"), classic rock ("International Feel"), and operatics ("Never Never Land"), with hints of early electronica sprinkled throughout.

The mostly middle-aged audience was fanatic in their appreciation of Rundgren's show; at one point a woman marched up to the stage and attempted to place a bouquet of yellow roses at Rundgren's feet (he didn't like that), while another man ran up the middle aisle at the beginning of every costume change to snap a photo with his digital camera. My date for the show was my father, who proudly showed off his original, pristine copy of A Wizard, A True Star to the other hippies in our row and stood up and cheered wildly at the end of every wailing guitar solo.