Why Todd Rundgren no longer plays in some cities
Todd Rundgren has been a road dog for decades. Before the pandemic, he was sometimes on tour for up to 10 months a year. But as he got older, he began to refine the way his concerts are delivered and therefore will no longer perform in some markets.
Climate change is also playing a role in how the veteran singer-songwriter and producer now approaches his concert programming. He explained to the UCR how difficult it has become “to schedule something and show up because of things like weather events which have more and more impact.”
“[Touring] involves more theft, [and] More and more I found myself sitting at the airport waiting for a delayed flight, making panicked calls with my travel agent, wondering if I could get to the next city in time to do the concert, â he explains. “It was all often due to the fact that there was a hurricane in Florida, so they closed all airports in Florida.”
Taking forest fires and floods as examples, Rundgren sees a developing situation that will only get worse. The pandemic gave him the opportunity to test a solution he came up with: Clearly Human, a virtual tour that took place earlier this year.
âI didn’t even think of delivering directly to home, which we did with the virtual tour, because people couldn’t leave their homes,â he explains. âBut I thought most venues now have decent video screens and sound systems. What if you put on and did some type of show that it would be impractical to travel with, then play it where you would have performed. if you had traveled physically? â
Rundgren discovered a side benefit of virtual concerts: the fans got a better experience. âYou start to realize that maybe there are clear benefits for them too,â he explains. “Besides the fact that alcohol is much cheaper when you watch at home.”
Watch Todd Rundgren perform “Real Man” on the 2021 “Clearly Human” tour
Rundgren laughs at the memory of watching video monitors on the first night of the virtual tour. “In the front row in the right corner, there was someone who chain-smoked the whole show,” he recalls. “I suddenly realized that this person was enjoying the show more than they would have if they had to be there and not smoke for two hours!” “
He says he likes the âhybridâ approach that developed with the Clearly Human concerts, which were based in Chicago. As people began to get vaccinated, Rundgren began to add small audiences to the performances. âYou always have real people dancing to the music live, right in front of you,â he explains. âAnd yet, you still have this virtual audience so far away yet tele-present, and living their life with you at the same time. I’m 73 and I’m going to be a lot more specific about how and when I’m going to shoot. So I’m always looking for different ways to deliver it.
Part of this revised approach involves moving away from certain cities. “I no longer go to many secondary tertiary markets,” he notes. “I don’t do those bus tours anymore where you just go from town to town to town to town. I only go to most of the big markets and play several nights in [those] markets. “
The multi-night strategy for in-person shows that start in October includes two days after the concerts to allow some time to travel to the next town. âIt helps me with my health,â he says. “Because there is a lot less stress being able to settle in a hotel room for three days instead of one night.”
The Individualist, a True Star tour features Rundgren performing his 1973 album, A wizard, a real star, in its entirety but with a catch: Each night only includes one side of the classic record. A second set will include the favorites of his entire career.
The second set will also be different each night, so Rundgren won’t âget boredâ to die-hard fans who plan to attend more than one show. âIf you play more than one show in a city, you want your fans to buy as many tickets as possible,â he laughs. “Buy five, please!” “
Listen to the UCR interview with Todd Rundgren
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