'Utopia - Live At The Chicago Theater'
(Todd Rundgren's Utopia / Blu-ray+DVD+2CD / NR / 2019 / MVD Visual - Cleopatra Entertainment)
Overview: After a thirty-year-plus hiatus, Todd Rundgren's Utopia graced the Chicago Theater stage, with the hopes of promising fans an extraordinary, other-worldly concert experience.
And trust me when I say that they succeeded in doing just that beyond all their wildest imaginations!
Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, the original '70s-formed band established a stellar reputation for stretching the prog rock/pop envelope and infusing their mostly original material with verve and state-of-the-art technique.
Rundgren, known for his sophisticated and often-unorthodox music, flamboyant stage outfits, and his later experiments with interactive entertainment, has himself performed a diverse range of styles as a solo artist and as a member of the band Utopia.
Indeed, he also produced innovative music videos, pioneered forms of multimedia, and was an early adopter and promoter of various computer technologies.
So all that means that everyone going to this incredible show and all those purchasing this newly released sensory monster of a 4-disc release knew/knows exactly what to expect from the musical experience!
1. 'Utopia Theme'
2. 'The Ikon'
3. 'Another Life'
4. 'Do Ya'
5. 'Freedom Fighters'
6. 'The Wheel'
7. 'Back on the Street'
8. 'Something's Coming'
10. 'Overture Communion with the Sun'
11. 'Last of the New Wave Riders'
12. 'Road To Utopia'
13. 'Play This Game'
14. 'Swing to the Right'
16. 'Set Me Free'
17. 'Love In Action'
18. 'Hammer In My Heart'
19. 'Princess of the Universe'
20. 'I Will Wait'
21. 'Rock Love'
22. 'Love is the Answer'
23. 'One World'
24. 'Just One Victory'
'Live at the Chicago Theatre' captures the Windy City stop of a tour that brought a rather broad assortment of twenty-four songs to the packed house that night.
For the 2018 tour he rounded up founding drummer Willie Wilcox and longtime bassist/vocalist Kasim Sulton, but when original keyboardist Ralph Schuckett had to back out, auditions were held and Israeli keyboardist/vocalist Gil Assayas was chosen to fill in.
With each track showcasing the diverse nature of Rundgren’s creative musical genius throughout the years, each and every one of Utopia’s ten studio albums are represented here; save for the Beatles nod Deface The Music.
The Prog era is well represented here amongst the songs on the first set, with everything being kicked off in some fine style with the concert opening ''Utopia Theme.'
Filmed and recorded from their live show on May 22nd, 2018, whether it be 'The Ikon,' 'The Wheel,' 'Monument,' or even the rockier side of the band within the second act such as 'Trapped,' 'Hammer In My Heart' and both 'Rock Love' and 'Love Is The Answer,' this is truly a sumptuous feast for the eyes and ears.
Each track is played with a passion that most bands today just don't have and the light show throughout combined with the band apparel is both dazzling and vibrant.
I mean, Rundgren's red/yellow outfit for the first half of the show is the coolest of his career, it has to be said. All of their playing, their vocals, their interaction timing is spot on perfect and there’s even a few covers thrown in.
The stand out one here for me, being a HUGE Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) fan is their rock out cover of The Move’s 'Do Ya.' Now, I say The Move as they actually cover Lynne and Roy Wood's version; which was recorded the year before Lynne left the band and before he took it back for ELO, reworked it and then made it a massive hit, of course.
Oh, and I have to give a MASSIVE special mention to Gil Assayas who inherited the keyboard duties here for the live show on very short notice. Well played, Sir. Well played.
'Live at the Chicago Theatre' is available now in this INCREDIBLE Blu-Ray+DVD+2CD set via MVD Visual/Cleopatra Entertainment and better still, old school vinyl fans can now also get a brilliant double-LP green vinyl edition housed in a rather lovely gatefold jacket too! This release reviewed above is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs with an Audio: 5.1 Surround.