Todd Rundgren’s Utopia performed their first Toronto concert in over 30 years at Massey Hall.
Formed in 1974, Mr. Rundgren (a bona fidepop star by that point) wanted to explore the sonic realms of prog-rock. In doing so, he gathered a dexterous band consisting of Willie Wilcox on drums on Kasim Sulton on bass. Evolving into a power-rock troupe by 1976, the band featured some of the most elaborate and bold productions in rock history. However, by 1986, things had run its course.
Fast forward to 2018, a reunited Utopia played their only Canadian stop on a six-week tour across North America.
The show opened with Utopia Theme from the group’s 1974 debut album. Replicating the original 14 ½-minute length, the song was played in its organ-based style, satisfying die-hard fans alike.
Elsewhere,Overture: Mountaintop and Sunrise/Communion with the Sun, from their 1977 album Ra, played amongst billowing stage fog and pools of lights, giving a taste of how Rundgren’s cult band influenced theatrical groups that followed.
After an intermission that reshuffled the stage to a starker layout, Utopia returned to play their 1979 penned hit Set Me Free which featured pristine new-wave vocals from bassist Sulton and searing guitar work from Rundgren.
Utopia sent fans at Massey Hall home on a high, closing out with the anthemic Love is the Answer, One World and the encore Just One Victory with Rundgren delivering one final, soaring solo.
While this tour may very well prove to be the group’s last, Toronto’s memorable performance will certainly sustain the group’s legacy for fans who had been waiting all these years.