Wizardry of Todd Rundgren Takes Spotlight of Innovative ‘Global’ Tour; Will It Satisfy His Debt?

Todd Rundgren at Roxy - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia
Todd Rundgren at Roxy - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – The saying “The Show Must Go On,” has never had truer meaning than it does today for Todd Rundgren.

With the Global tour, Rundgren has returned to his roots.  He’s energetic, his voice is clear and he’s lean. Very lean.

For a lot of reasons, he has to be.  Because beneath his smiling exterior, the excellent solos on his see-through guitar, and his strong vision, what comes with this tour is a certain urgency.

Todd Rundgren performs during Global tour at Roxy Theatre
Todd Rundgren performs during Global tour at Roxy Theatre – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“The Wizard” revisits a post-futuristic style, similar to his Utopia days.  But instead of Kasim Sulton, Roger Powell and Willie Wilcox, he’s accompanied by cool D.J., Dam-Funk, and his backup singer-dancers.

Once inside the Roxy and while chatting with some Rundgren fans from the mainland as well as from Hawaii we were told we obviously had not been reading the business pages closely enough.

Rundgren is scrambling to keep the money coming in, following a foreclosure judgment on his Hawaii home and his subsequent lawsuit against the bank that granted he and his wife, Michele, a refinance on their home.

Did they use the cash to fund Michele’s Hawaiian restaurant, Tiki Iniki?

It’s mind-boggling to believe that Rundgren is in debt to the tune of millions of dollars, and that his home — where they’ve filmed concerts and gigs, where fans have gone for various birthday and Toddstock celebrations, and where friends and family live — is in foreclosure.

In court papers, Rundgren claims Washington Mutual induced him to sign refinance documents that were misleading.

Todd Rundgren performs at Roxy during Global tour - Photos © 2015 Donna Balancia
Todd Rundgren performs at Roxy during Global tour – Photos © 2015 Donna Balancia

But those inside the Roxy last week, and those who have visited the Hawaiian restaurant Michele was determined to open a few years ago, say Tiki Iniki in Kauai is a financial burden. The food and service are inconsistent according to reviews, it isn’t branded a “Todd Rundgren” venue, and the rent is high.  Everything in Princeville on Kauai is expensive.

So it’s no surprise Rundgren is touring like crazy and doesn’t take time to do much except sell records, sign CDs, sell merchandise and play music.  

It’s really a shame. Rundgren is one artist who has helped more aspiring and established musicians than many we can name.  When Rick Derringer had his guitars stolen back in 1980, Rundgren organized a charity concert at South Street Seaport in New York City that raised thousands for the guitarist.  READ MORE ABOUT TODD RUNDGREN AT EAST COAST ROCKER.

Rundgren’s efforts to produce Hall and Oates, transformed the band from a mellow and melodic twosome that barely reached an ill-defined demographic, into a hip, rockin’ group with upbeat songs and hit records.

Rundgren stepped in to support The Cars on their tour, he has been a great side man to Ringo on the Ringo All-Star Tour, and his record producing is outstanding.  In case you forgot, note these four words: Bat Out Of Hell.

Todd Rundgren at Roxy - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia
Todd Rundgren at Roxy – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

We did some quick math.  At $45 or so per ticket, with about 250 people at the Roxy the first night, it works out to about $11,250.  Multiply that by 25 more shows and a few CD signings, and accounting for the possibly larger number of fans in bigger venues, the rest of Rundgren’s tour could bring in more than $650,000 in ticket sales. Minus expenses and overhead.  Prior to the Roxy performances, Rundgren played 39 shows on the tour.

If someone wanted to have a benefit concert for Rundgren, there would be no shortage of fans or participants.  While pride often gets in the way of artists accepting charity, if ever there were a case for helping out one of the best musicians of our time, this is it.

All the financial news aside, Rundgren continues to be a light in the world of music.

He has slimmed down to what appears to be pre-1980s slimness; his moves are equally energetic and up to the standards of those days.  Had the stage at the Roxy been a little larger, it’s a sure bet he would have done his trademark run across the stage while blaring his amazing guitar licks.

The intimate show was great in many regards, especially in that it enables long-time fans to get a new perspective and it appeals to new fans because of the electronic element.  The latest of Rundgren’s projects combines an EDM-DJ style with his own, in a possible appeal to gain the important younger and more free-flowing dollars.

The light and video work on the Global tour is impressive, as is his see-through guitar.  HIs songs were predominantly off the new album, but Rundgren did re-imagine some legendary favorites like “One World,” which he pulled out about three-quarters through the show, and finale “Just One Victory.”

Todd Rundgren at Roxy - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia
Todd Rundgren at Roxy – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

There are many things to be admired about Rundgren.  He is a technology genius.  He has always been ahead of his time in various aspects of music video and music distribution.  He received relatively few honors for his fantastic technology work, but one award that received press was the Les Paul Award at NAMM two years ago.

It’s a shame that as he has developed into a musician who is finally comfortable with his own accomplishments, Rundgren can’t rest.  But perhaps that is to the benefit of the concert-goer.  It is welcome news that Rundgren will continue to produce music and performances for the world.

All in all, Rundgren’s show is always a soulful experience that satisfies non-fans and fans.  And hopefully, it will satisfy the banks and lenders as well.

  • itsabeautifulday

    I agree with practically everything you have said here. Although musically this is not my favorite show, it was fun and in the right room if the audience is just there to have a good time, they can enjoy at whatever physical level they may. A good deal of the music is not from Global, but popular songs with the audience such as Secret Society from POV, a couple from Arena and although the hits are rushed through at the end they are followed by International Feel & Just One Victory. The songs from Global just weren’t as timeless or even extended to make them very memorable. I wish Todd and Daryl Hall would do a Motown album, or the 4 piece Utopia would reunite with some new music. I think Todd could deal with it. I can’t really comment on the reasons behind Global, but I think it is now being presented as just another of Todd’s experiments. Which you are free to dislike, adore or somewhere in between.

  • SundayMorning

    Is there any update to this story? If the home is still in foreclosure, why aren’t we doing a GoFundMe for Todd and Michele? Seriously. The man has given so much.

  • disqus_IoCrcFRkVB

    Agree, support him