Todd Rundgren Brings Old Friends Together Again for the Very First Time at The National

Todd Rundgren at The National in Richmond, VA on 6/18/2019. Photo: Dave Pearson

Richmond, VA – Quoting the baseball legend, Yogi Berra, from the moment I walked into The National on June 18th, ‘It was like déjà vu all over again’. Initially I could not place why the atmosphere was so familiar, but after a few conversations with best friends, whom I had never met, I understood. In a way, it was like a 20th class reunion. Not having seen old friends in years and not knowing what to expect, only to almost instantly engage like so much time had passed. The only difference this time was, I had no idea who my newfound old friends were. All I knew is we were all there for a Todd Rundgren concert. In all, I had at least 3 conversations before the show even started, two of which really stick out in my mind. Couple number 1 was there to relive their first date, having attended a Rundgren concert in their youth, while another was returning the favor to their parents, who had taken them to multiple Rundgren concerts and now it was their turn to bring it full circle and treat their parents. The atmosphere was electric and we were there to enjoy Todd’s performance, whether for the first time (like me) or for the 3rd, 4th, or more time.

Not long after the show began I understood what was going on. From the moment Todd took the stage, the connection between artist and audience was obvious. Rundgren, playing guitar with ease, engaged the audience on all sides of the stage, giving everyone a sample of his musical prowess. The audience ate it up. As he sang, it was apparent that his music touched the hearts of many in the audience. The mix of emotions from youthful giddiness to tears, obviously remembering a deeper meaning than just what the words vocalized, was a lesson in the power the art of music can have.

Of course, the show was not all music, we got to learn a little bit about Todd too. He talked of his career, sometimes coming to a crossroads, sometimes being on a plateau… stating that the worst would be to be at a crossroads on a plateau, no matter which way you go you will fall off. I think it is safe to say he was never in such a place. Throughout the performance a slideshow was displayed, providing the audience with an inside look at where he had been and how he got where he is. 

One memorable, non-musical moment, in the show was a conversation between man and guitar, with the guitar opining about the significance of power piano ballads. The jury is still out as to who came out on top of the conversation but it was a lot of fun.

Todd played several songs from his original band, Nazz, as well many from his long solo career. One could tell what he played was about the music and from the heart. He was his music and his music was him. I think he summed it up quite well when, during the audience Q and A, he was asked what song he enjoyed playing most… his response, ‘there is no one answer, it depends on the day and time. The songs I do not like to play is a much shorter list’.

As the show came to a close it was blatant, this was a reunion. Yes, at least for two and a half hours, the hundreds of fans that gathered at The National were best of friends, not reunited in the name of an academic institution, but brought together by music that touched everyone in the audience at some moment in time and even at this moment. As we all went our separate ways into the night, I could not help but once again relive the moment I experienced leaving my last class reunion thinking, “Let’s not wait another 20 years to meet again.”


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Set List

How About a Little Fanfare?
I Think You Know
Open My Eyes
Hello It’s Me
We Gotta Get You a Woman
I Saw the Light
It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference
Black Maria
An Elpee’s Worth of Toons
Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel
Too Far Gone
A Dream Goes on Forever
The Death of Rock and Roll
Can We Still Be Friends
Real Man
Love of the Common Man
Couldn’t I Just Tell You
Fair Warning


Audience Q & A
The Individualist
Bag Lady
Kiddie Boy
I Don’t Want to Tie You Down


Just One Victory

Show Date: 6/18/2019