By DONNA BALANCIA
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia ends its long-awaited reunion tour tonight at Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside.
The colorful road show was a gift to Utopia fans who have been waiting since the 1980s to see the iconic band play once again. Band members are Willie Wilcox on drums, Kasim Sulton on bass, Gil Assayas on keyboards and Rundgren up front.
Since the late 1970s, Utopia was renowned for its prog rock-pop songs, colorful costume changes and innovative stage performances. Todd told CaliforniaRocker.com in an interview that the band was a special project of his that didn’t get the support it may have deserved from the record labels.
Devoted Fans Clamor to Utopia Tour
The six-week tour was a major project, bringing the band across the country with stops in New York, the midwest and closing out on the West Coast.
“I’ve been waiting since 1986 to see Utopia together again,” said fan Rhonda who attended the show at The Wiltern last week. “Todd’s voice is great, the lighting is amazing and I loved all of it.”
The show is a five-star, high-energy performance from guys who have been in the music game since the 1960s. The show hits all the high notes of the Utopia performances in the day, with the exception of some songs of note by former keyboardist Roger Powell who was unavailable for the reunion. Assayas fills in beautifully at electronic keys and synth, winning over a quasi-skeptical, devoted and purist Utopia audience.
Utopia Brings Vibrant Performance
Rundgren’s in shape, having spent almost every night or every other night on stage for the last several years, with Utopia, his own work or touring with Ringo Starr. His voice is remarkably clear and while he may not get as much air on the jumps as in the 1980s, he is still captivating in his performance. Sulton solos his noted songs like “Set Me Free,” with which he earns the respect of music lovers. Willie Wilcox on drums adds that trademark Utopia tom tom and big booming percussion sound and seems to have enjoyed himself on the six-week outing.
Utopia mixed it up on the set list, playing everything from the obligatory “The Road to Utopia,” “Rock Love,” “Love Is The Answer” to “Something’s Coming,” a cover of the “West Side Story” show tune, that they were known to play in the 1980s.
Todd launches his new tour “An Unpredictable Evening With Todd Rundgren” on July 25.
Here’s a photo recap of Utopia at The Wiltern: