Cult act Todd Rundgren performs for fans March 30 at the Stranahan Theater.
Beloved by arena rock fans, Bob Seger puts on a high-energy show March 31.
Crystal Bowersox, with long-time bassist Frankie May at right, performs April 1 at Monroe County Community College.
James Taylor, right, performs with his son, Ben, at the Stranahan Theater April 2.
In every good rock concert there should be moments when something spontaneous happens that reminds you why live music is so much more dynamic than the recorded version.
Last week Toledo-area rock fans experienced a grand slam of live music, four shows in four nights featuring a cult act (Todd Rundgren), a classic rock colossus (Bob Seger), a local hero (Crystal Bowersox), and a classy veteran showcasing his son (James Taylor).
And each show had its moments when all the rehearsals were tossed out the door and the artists were up there creating something magical that can never be repeated.
Rundgren and Bowersox were on the highest of wires with only the goodwill of their audiences to cushion any potential falls.
Playing two ambitious albums that were 30 years or older, Rundgren worked exceptionally hard at the Stranahan Theater to pull off a show filled with potential traps. At one point as he sat at the piano, brow furrowed, playing tentatively, his bass player Kasim Sulton and guitarist Jesse Gress looked at each other and shrugged, as if they weren’t sure what he was playing.
Later, during the “Healing” section of the concert, with a full choir wailing behind him and Rundgren answering them on guitar as the music built to wave after wave of crescendo and climax, the pay-off for such risk-taking was obvious in the ecstatic nature of the performance.
Seger, it’s safe to say, could’ve done just about anything short of trashing the Mud Hens and the result would’ve been adulation from the Huntington Center crowd. But he’s the kind of pro who never takes anything for granted.
We’ve all seen musicians work the stage and play to the folks who have bad sight lines, but Seger does it differently. Rather than flitting from side to side, he’ll stay there for a good portion of a song, beaming, pumping his arms, and giving the people in the cheap seats their money’s worth.
Watching Bowersox at Monroe County Community College’s La-Z-Boy Center was like seeing her for the first time. Shorn of the American Idol artifice, she was a band leader working hard to integrate musicians who had only played with her a few times.
It was fascinating to watch her up close, shouting out changes to her bandmates in mid-song, nodding to the mandolin player when it was time for him to take a solo, and consoling her husband after he sang a poignant song about his late mother.
It’s been said what seems like a million times, but it remains true: Bowersox is the real deal, a true artist, and not some pre-fab “star” manufactured by a TV talent contest. She just keeps proving it.
Finally there was James Taylor, who showcased his son, Ben, in a show at the Stranahan that was warm and appropriately familial. The two share jaw lines and physiques and during “How Sweet It Is” they were both bopping around the stage, the young pup playfully dancing uninhibitedly while the old dog strummed his guitar and smiled beatifically.
At that moment the audience and the musicians were one, lost in the music and relishing a moment that can never be repeated.
Contact Rod Lockwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6159.
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