Todd Rundgren - guitar, vocals; Kasim Sulton - bass, keyboards, vocals; Roger Powell - keyboards, vocals; John "Willie" Wilcox - drums, vocals
Originally a local FM broadcast, the tapes were then mixed by Todd Rundgren before the show was heard nationally on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Good thing it was, too. Utopia was still in peak form on the concert stage and also because most of Utopia's audience didn't have the chance to experience these concerts in person. The American-only tour never ventured west of Illinois or south of Virginia.
Why? A good indication may lie in the general lack of support Utopia had faced since Todd Rundgren first formed the band in 1973. The devoted fans still came to the shows, but for the rest, a Todd Rundgren project was preferred. The group disbanded the following year.
In 1984, the band was promoting the apt-titled Oblivion album. Reflecting the sound of the times, the production was full of keyboards, drum machines and sequencers, as evidenced on the ballad "If I Didn't Try." Collectively, the songs were harder-edged than previous Utopia 1980's albums, although the pop element the quartet had become known for was certainly present in several tunes.
Economy was a word that described the sights and sounds onstage, from Todd's trimmed locks, to the lack of between-songs banter, to the absence of Roger Powell's fortress of keyboards. This was a different Utopia. Kasim Sulton uncharacteristically kicked off the first set of songs, replicating his bass guitar parts on a keyboard strapped to his body. For the first time, the set was comprised of strictly Utopia tunes. There were no songs from the Todd catalog like "Hello It's Me" to appease the audience members expecting to hear the hits.
If anyone had yet to receive the message in the previous seven years, the group was clearly not just Todd Rundgren's backing band. Drummer "Willie" Wilcox sang lead on the new wave-sounding "You Make Me Crazy" and Roger took the vocal spotlight on "Abandon City," a song from 1977's Oops! Wrong Planet that fit the Oblivion concept. Kasim and Todd handled the rest of the lead vocals, sometimes in duet form as in the show opener, "Too Much Water."
The recording is a wonderful document not just because the quartet was performing on all cylinders, but because it contains songs that have never resurfaced onstage beyond this brief tour. For example, "Crybaby," the closest thing that resembled a hit on Oblivion, is a great track that Utopia was amazingly able to pull off on this recording. One last note: It has been acknowledged by Todd that "Crybaby" is a Def Leppard rip-off. Listen to the dense, ethereal background vocals and the chord progression in the first few bars of the chorus and indeed, it's almost like "Photograph."