Utopia

Live in Columbus, Ohio 1980 [DVD]

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Sanctuary Records are obviously closet Todd Rundgren fans, as the early 21st century saw the label begin to issue Rundgren and Utopia archive releases -- first CD's, and eventually, DVD's, such as 2003's Live in Columbus Ohio 1980. As its titles suggests, the group is caught in action while in the middle of the tour in support of one of their finest (and most commercially successful releases), Adventures in Utopia, but unlike other Utopia DVD's currently on the market, (Live at the Royal Oak, Redux '92: Live in Japan), Ohio 1980 is a complete concert -- no songs have been edited out. Clocking in at slightly over two hours in length, the show is split into three separate parts. The first focuses primarily on then-current tracks, the second is mostly comprised of a few solo performances by various bandmembers, while the third contains mostly early tracks -- especially from Utopia's early prog rock period. Highlights include the oddity "Gangrene" (which sees most of the members swap instruments, with drummer Willie Wilcox becoming a momentary frontman), a Rundgren/Roger Powell medley of hits, as well as full-on band versions of "Road to Utopia," "Love of the Common Man," "Caravan," and the perennial show closer, "Just One Victory." But, as with the Rundgren CD's that have appeared thus far via Sanctuary, the quality of the first Rundgren-related DVD title isn't exactly up to standard -- it appears as though the picture transfer was from a videotape copy of the show (not exactly crystal clear, with static 'squiggles' from time to time), while the sound is a bit muffled as well. Additionally, the choice of showing the entire promo video for "You Make Me Crazy," instead of showing the dudes on-stage wasn't exactly a wise move. If you're a longtime Utopia fan, 'Live in Columbus Ohio 1980' is definitely worth a look, but if you're a newcomer, you'd probably be better off with A Retrospective: 1977-1984.