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Todd plays god

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Todd plays god

By Rob Trucks

Todd Rundgren says that he doesn't play rock 'n' roll (and he's probably right), but that doesn't mean his live performances aren't full-on, highly stylized productions performed for devotees who follow his every onstage move with revivalist fervor.

The 55-year-old pop innovator's current 50-date excursion through America comes as support for his latest album, Liars, the thematic equivalent of Al Franken's best-selling Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

Yes, it's shocking, but it seems no one tells the truth anymore. And the glory days of Watergate, when all we had to do was blame the government, are part of the past as well. To drive home the point, Rundgren appears on the cover as an unshaven - and possibly rabid - Easter Bunny because, you see, it's not just politicians who scurry from the truth. We lie too. We (yep, you and me) lie to our neighbors, our partners, and even to our children. Damn our dishonest hides.

Todd Rundgren

8pm
Tuesday, May 25
$20 (advance);
$22 (day of show)
La Zona Rosa
612 W. 4th St., Austin
(512) 469-7469
Liars offers tunes about "Truth," the "Past" and the "Future." About the "Afterlife" and "Living." Liars even deigns to share what "God Said," but while Rundgren's new material is much more lyrically didactic than, say, "We Gotta Get You A Woman" or "I Saw The Light," the sound is still recognizably his own - a solid base of blue-eyed techno-soul with a crafted pop overlay, not too far from the musical neighborhood of fellow Philadelphia natives Hall & Oates.

Of course, every preacher needs a pulpit, and this evangelical road show comes prepared. Rundgren arrives center-stage under a cathedral arch of silver scaffolding, backed by his long-time four-piece band outfitted like religious chess pieces in their own individualized choir lofts.

Along with a healthy dose of Liars, Rundgren pulls out a few crowd-pleasing surprises during his two-plus hour show. A recent Friday night in New York City yielded "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" as well as a seemingly reluctant encore of "Hello It's Me" which brought Rundgren to the edge of the stage to touch and be touched by the faithful - like the musical saint they see him to be, like the rock star he says he isn't. •


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