A wizard, a true star…Legendary recording artist, producer, songwriter and tech pioneer Todd Rundgren remains one step ahead of the game announcing his 2021 Clearly Human Virtual Tour – An event featuring 25 performances, each geofenced and tailored to a different US city, thus beating – what’s for all intents and purposes – been a worldwide closure on live touring.
Each performance will begin at an unspecified venue in Chicago venue – As this is the most convenient time zone to allow for 8pm show times in every market – then the shows will become localised, giving both the band and the fans a sense of place (e.g. local landmarks will appear on the video wall, catering for the band and crew will feature dishes associated with each city, etc).
Single-ticket purchases within the US will be limited to fans with zip codes (the equivalent to our post codes) corresponding to that show’s greater metropolitan area. US-based fans not living in a designated tour market can also “attend” any or all dates through multi-show ticket bundles, that – like internationally based fans purchasing single-show tickets – will exempt them from geofencing restrictions. In Chicago, there will be a licensed COVID compliance officer on staff at all times, with both the band and crew testing regularly throughout the duration of the virtual tour.
Emulating a traditional routing itinerary, the Clearly Human Tour kicks off on 14th February “in” Buffalo, New York and wrap up on 22nd March “in” Seattle, Washington.
Produced by NoCap, the live streaming company recently launched by Cisco Adler, and Panacea Entertainment chairman Eric Gardner, Todd’s long-time manager, each show will feature Rundgren and an expanded 10-piece band performing standouts from his 50-year-plus catalogue, as well as his entire 1989 classic album Nearly Human, that Warner Music Group will also be re-releasing on CD and coloured vinyl.
Remote meet-and-greets with Todd will be available at every show, as will options to select viewing from multiple camera angles and to be featured on several rows of video screens that will serve as the real-time “virtual audience” for the evening.
Subject to Chicago’s COVID policy regarding public gatherings in force at the time, there will be a handful of tickets available to attend in person and sit safely distanced amongst the virtual audience, with each attendee required to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the event.
First attracting attention in British-influenced rock band The Nazz, Rundgren delved into a solo career where the very diversity of his music often defied description, though notable hits singles like ‘I Saw The Light’ proved his mainstream appeal.
Likewise, his work as a producer has seen responsible for Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell, alongside albums for Grand Funk Railroad, The New York Dolls and Hall & Oates.
He formed progressive rock/power pop side-project Utopia and played live with a reformed version of The Cars, always adapting and sometimes devising new technological advancements in both sound and video. Rundgren recently sat down with Rolling Stone magazine and revealed his latest thoughts on this subject and how he’s taking things forward in these challenging times.
“People are trying to compensate often by doing one big show and trying to get as much audience as possible,” Rundgren noted. “While that does unify the audience, it doesn’t give the audience that sense of special attention when you come to their town. At the same time, we have to try to figure out ways that as performers, we don’t wind up feeling like we’re doing a residence at a hotel.”
While the concept of Clearly Human lends itself naturally to our current socially distanced world, Rundgren actually conceived the idea years ago as a solution to the growing challenges of touring amidst climate change and a way to reduce his own carbon footprint.
Seeing this as “setting the gold standard” for what he predicts will become a new touring paradigm, it’s not the first time Rundgren has been out front with a tech-savvy new idea. he designed the first-ever graphics tablet for Apple in 1979; other “firsts” include the first-ever live interactive television concert (1978), the first live national cablecast of a rock concert (1982), the first commercial music downloads (1992), the first online direct artist subscription service, PatroNet (1998,) and the first full-length concert shot with multiple Virtual Reality 360º cameras (2016).
It may well be that Rundgren extends this virtual tour into a worldwide one. Until then though, interested parties this side of the Atlantic can sign up for one of Stateside shows by clicking here.
Rundgren’s band for the tour will feature Kasim Sulton (Bass), Prairie Prince (Drums), Eliot Lewis (Keyboards), Gil Assayas (Synthesiser), Bruce McDaniel (Guitar), Bobby Strickland (Sax), Steven Stanley (Trombone), plus the erstwhile Global Girls: Michele Rundgren, Grace Yoo, and Ashle Worrick (Background Vocals).
Ever novel, in its truest sense, Todd Rundgren has new festive single out now on Cleopatra Records. It’s a cover tune, first performed by Dutch comedian and actor Youp van ’t Hek as a Christmas song back in 1978. Ever the contrarian, Rundgren has suggested that one listen/watch his version at your own risk… Thus, RAMzine offers you the video to ‘Flappie – A Holiday Fable’!