The torture stopped: Hermit opens the doors and throws a party. His archives break open, too.
After the fruity '70s, next decade seemed to dry Todd's creative juices out, until 1989's "Nearly Human" set him back on organic track, and on the ensuing tour Rundgren followed his dream of having a rhythm-and-blues review on stage. It resulted in the most vibrant performances of which this album, the artist's best, is a wonderful document. Bringing alive his latest record here, seven songs off it, Todd justifies its title with rough, yet so warm, vocal delivery and periodic dismissal of the 11-strong group in order to face the public intimately as he does with the barebone hard-hitting "Love Of The Common Man" or the totally unexpected revealing of "Cliche". Thanks to such approach, the sense of vitality prevails, and when the veteran engages the crowd in the 15-minute finale of "I Love My Life", pre-faced with a moving classic "Hello, It's Me", carnival emotions come over.
Eschewing for the most part the obvious hits, save for the pale "Can We Still Be Friends", Rundgren unfurls his soulful flow starting with "Real Man" from "Initiation" to get down with a Marvin Gaye medley, smacked right in the heart of "Lost Horizon", but not before having another go, full ensemble in tow, at "A Cappella" with the infectious "Something To Fall Back On". More so, Todd doesn't limit his revisiting of the UTOPIA domain to the fans fave, wildly rocking "Love In Action", and dusts off a pair of "P.O.V." groovy gems, "Secret Society" and "Mated", yet "Rock Love" kicks a magic glitter in. In this context, new compositions - smooth "Parallel Lines", darkly dramatic "Hawking", the gospel-shaped "Can't Stop Running" - take even more honeyed, if sweetly rawer, taste than in the studio environment, and in their sincerity slightly contrast the tortured music hall of "Compassion", while the second "Healing" obscurity, "Tiny Demons", drowns its dry run into the eerie electronic FX from Lyle Workman's guitar.
Surprises at every turn, there's not a dull moment here, and as Todd is not well-served with regards to live albums, if you want to have only one, this is surely it.