by Ron Hromoko

i've never been to a TR-i gig that started at 2pm. these food/wine/ art/whatever events are a good vehicle to see an act in a public, relaxed [typically overpriced] setting.

we arrive with a few minutes to spare, literally. we jet through the rows of white merchant artist tents, offering their unique wares for ridiculously high prices, and set up in the small walkway in front of the main stage. the family is *all* in the house.

TR is introduced a few mins after 2pm by a local radio chick. bathing beauty wet suit top with the Flaming Sun sarong is cast against a back drop open to the bay and sausalito marina. WaT sunglasses and a small elephant-tusk pendant complete the accessories.

a hearty hometown welcome is met with "LotCM", which is rhythmic and fun. todd sounds good, and seems happy to be in town. the black takamine stays over the shoulder for "I Don't Want to Tie You Down", which is flubbed slightly on the fingers but good vocals, and "Lysistrata" which is solid.

an apologetic rap on TR's 1996 parting comments about sausalito residents turns sour when it hits vertically challenged mill valley investment bankers and their trophy homes. "Cliche" is forceful, passionate.

another retrospective rap on utopia's opening for The Rolling Stones in UK is recounted when TR's bare feet are burning atop the black, sunlit stage. the Stones had a giant tongue which needed to be preserved, so they threw a large rubber cover over it, which baked most of the peoples on and around it. sounded like a sample from The Slush Pile...

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is easy fun. the sailing ships on the bay and chorus-chanting voices create a careless, drunken, triumphant tone not unlike an irish pub at 1:00am.

a hard-played "Hammer in My Heart" precedes the extended warning/rap on the manic-depressive hawaiian neighbor boB, who takes the blame for the inevitable impending piano flubs.

the first finger-flexer is an unnoteworthy "Song of The Viking", aside from TR taking off the WaT shades in order to see the keys. "IWHMAD" and "Too Far Gone" are both unconfident and distracting to the audience. TFG vocal is great, but ahead of the fingers in dexterity. an equally awkward "Compassion" finishes the stuttering steinway & sons' sequence.

TR quickly escapes the piano to center stage for a truely unique hawaiian ukelele arrangement of "Bang the Drum All Day"; complete with a "Lion Sleeps Tonight" yodel in place of the drum break. no pickups in the tiny four-string guitar force todd to lower the mic position, hold the ukelele up to his chest and stick his chin into his neck to sing. this was so cool it made me think of how a little rehearsal can go a long way.

the black woodgrain gets a workout for "#1 LCD". "Tiny Demons" is reeeeeal melllllowww after "#1". "I Saw the Light" is played with the black acoustic without instance. TR brings a paused attention to the last note in the IStL guitar solo.

the takamine gets tuned real high for "There Goes My Inspiration", which sounds much better than it usually does. the tuning exercise reminds todd he's "never going to get to lilith fair this way".

an unexpected mid-set surprise of "The Wheel" has us all clapping in sync. TR's a robot with the four chords, which gives him the focus to howl at will on the vocal. the guitar strap snaps and the guitar falls of OH's back during the ending. this was cool, and only slightly less cool than "Bang the Drum". now, if he did 'Wheel' *with* the ukelele...

"One world" is labored and loud. during the chorus, TR crawls under the piano while still playing guitar to grab a water bottle with his teeth. put a fork in him, he's done.

the two-toon encore starts with "CWSBF"; flubs in all the usual places. then, TR somehow pulls a rabbit out of his ass and 'gets his groove back' for a stellar "Hawking" to send us away smiling.

more wine, more cheese