State Theater New Jersey 2005 (CD/DVD)

Joe Jackson & Todd Rundgren featuring Ethel

Pyramid Records, 2021

REVIEW BY: Mark Kadzielawa


Back in the 1980s, Joe Jackson and Todd Rundgren had this sophisticated rock aura around them. They were favored by the college crowds and considered a tiny bit more ambitious in their musical approaches. Add a string quartet to the mix and the sophisticated label gets deeper and deeper. To this writer, who was still a high school student at the time, the two performers seemed like aliens. As time went on, I found a way to appreciate Todd Rundgren, but Joe Jackson was still an entity waiting to be fully discovered.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This live set begins with five classical tracks from Ethel. They are excellent players who deliver a very special feel and set the tone for what’s to come. Joe Jackson takes the stage next for a 10-song set. I have to admit that I’m less familiar with Joe Jackson’s music, which also explains why I’ve spent more time listening to his portions of the concert. Many of these songs sound familiar to me, but not automatically so. His playing and delivery is quite intense, and you can hear that he is definitely going for it. “Is She Really Going Out With Him” is a great song, but I found “Love At First Light” to be especially great. Joe Jackson certainly has a special charisma and his songwriting is very specific, but I’m not quite there yet when it comes to fully understanding his music.

Todd Rundgren also delivers a 10-song set. He is definitely as intense as Jackson and throws out one great song after another. It was his name alone that drew me to this set, so I found myself appreciating his portion of the recording the most.  The two highlights for me are “Lysistrada” and the very enthusiastic performance of “Free, Male And 21.” Todd appears to have a great time and is definitely in his element.

The encore presentation includes all sorts of combinations, with Jackson and Rundgren both teaming up with Elthel for a song each.  Finally, everyone comes together for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Black Maria,” which brings the house down.

This is a CD/DVD set, so you can choose whether to listen only or watch and listen at the same time. It’s a very nice set that probably won’t be around too long, so if you’re a fan of these artists, pick it up now before it’s off the market.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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