Last week Live Nation/Electric Factory Concerts turned ye old TLA on South Street into the Fillmore Philadelphia at The TLA.
They put up chandeliers, re-did floors. It looked good.
Somebody mentioned they would give away apples at the door. Didn't see any. But it was dark, and an apple's not a thing you focus on.
Fillmore? That was the name the late Bill Graham - concert promoter, manager, mensch - gave to legendary venues: first in San Francisco, then in New York City, between 1965 and 1968.
That's the same time Upper Darby's Todd Rundgren - the first guy to sell out Fillmore Philadelphia, Friday - started his musical life with Woody's Truck Stop.
Rundgren joked about being a white kid playing blues and psychedelic noise. But add singer-songwriter soul, Tin Pan Alley pop, and prog-rock to the list, and that's Rundgren's career, one exploited nicely on Friday.
Rundgren's surprises ranged from the greased-up boogie of "Slut" and a chirpy "The Walls Came Down (The Call!)" to a tom-tom-thumping take on "I Saw the Light" that was soul-pop perfection down to the slack-key-inspired twin-guitar whine and bouncing background harmonies. Though Rundgren has rock's finest scream (employed through the dirtball thwack of "Black & White"), he turned on a dime and nailed the R&B-ish ballad "Tiny Demons" with a croon deeply etched with tender weirdness.
Rundgren's sets can be garishly theatrical; his costumes, loudly trashy. But this night, Rundgren - dressed in black and with a small band including bassist Tony Levin and drummer Jerry Marotta - played it tight; pounding through lean, mean riffs on the frug-worthy "Soul Brother" and the glissando-glistening "Black Maria."
Philly's The A-Sides opened the show - not with the wily, fey chamber rock of records like Silver Storms. Instead, aptly titled tunes like "Cinematic" - filled with walloping drums, iced-over guitars and distingué vocals - rose from a supple smoking ember to a rumbling raging (Arcade) fire.