Todd Rundgren’s Utopia takes their journey to The Paramount
It is the greatest feeling to get something you have been waiting for, especially if you have been waiting a very long time. That is how fans of the 1970’s and ‘80’s progressive rock band Utopia have been feeling since the announcement of their reunion tour earlier this year. This will be the first time since 1992 that Todd Rundgren (guitar/vocals), Kasim Sulton (bass/vocals) and John “Willie” Wilcox (drums/vocals) have played together.
Originally slated to join them on keyboards for this tour was Ralph Shuckett but for personal reasons he was unable to do it, so one of Rundgren’s sons suggested Gil Assyas. He is a keyboardist who was raised in Jerusalem but over the years his musical journey brought him to Portland, OR. Assyas became a quick study of Utopia’s catalogue of music, and his skills proved he would be a great fit for the band on this tour.
With a cult following, it came as no surprise that their visit to The Paramount in Huntington, NY on May 1 would be to a nearly sold out venue. Many in attendance were showing their love with concert t-shirts for both Todd Rundgren and Utopia, many of those shirts showing signs of the many years they have been wearing them. The crowd was mellow, enjoying chatting among themselves and while having a drink or two, but when the house lights dimmed they all came to life, clapping, and cheering.
Without an opening act the audience knew they were in for an incredible night of music and to their satisfaction they started the night right off with “Utopia Theme.” They kept the groove going with “The Ikon” and “Another Life,” then Rundgren said, “Well now that was some prog rock for you!” and the fans were screaming and clapping. Then changing up the mood a little they played their cover of The Move’s song, “Do Ya.” Basically going non-stop they rocked the fans with “Freedom Fighters,” “The Wheel,” “Back on the Street” and a Leonard Bernstein cover, “Something’s Coming.” Still not letting up they continued with “Monument,” “Overture: Mountaintop and Sunrise,” “Communion With the Sun” and “Last of the New Wave Riders.”
At this point it was time for the band to take a breather. Before long they returned to the stage to continue their musical journey with “The Road to Utopia.” After they did “Play This Game,” “Swing to the Right” and “Trapped,” came their highest charting hit “Set Me Free.” Throughout the whole show the audience were mesmerized by the creative and colorful videos that played as the backdrop to each of their songs, it would be no different for “Love in Action,” “Hammer in My Heart,” “Princess of the Universe,” “I Will Wait” and “Rock Love.” During each song, all night fans would sing along to the lyrics, but most of them really had their vocal cords going for “Love Is the Answer” and for the final song “One World.” But the night was not about to end there as they played one encore, a Rundgren song, “Just One Victory” while everyone was on their feet swaying to the beat.
The wait was very well worth it, Utopia proved to be just as inspiring as ever. As always the musicianship was top notch, each member had time in the spotlight with their instrument and lead vocals, but when they sang together their four part harmonies where euphoric. The North American tour is only half way through so there are still plenty of dates left covering coast to coast. Do not miss this opportunity to see this legendary band play live; it is an experience for both eyes and ears like no other. Remaining tour dates here!