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May 21, 2005 - Dickson Theater - Fayetteville, AR


Review by Mark Fern:

This was scheduled as an early show, doors at 7:00 and show at 8:00 pm. There was no opening act and the warm up tape was mainly Elvis gospel songs, which was different and cool. We ended up sitting in the first two rows of folding chairs in front of the elevated stage. We were surprised when Todd came out at about 8:03 to start the show. He made it through the first two songs and then got distracted immediately by an unapologetically untuned G-string on the first of his two black Epiphone guitars. As most of you know, Todd is not a great on-stage guitar tuner, and eventually, in frustration, handed off that guitar to Elvis Aaron Hicks, declaring something to the effect that he never really liked that guitar anyway. Anyhow, he grabbed the other black Ep, fumbled around for the right harp, and eventually got back on track.

Importantly, Todd appeared to be in good health, and was having a good time. And, by the way, the place was packed. We got there a little bit after 7:00 and had to stand in a pretty good sized line outside for a few minutes waiting for the place to open. I'm not sure how many people were there because I never really looked behind us during the show. Judging by how hard it was to walk through the crowd after the show, I would guess there were 200 or more folks there, who were loud and appreciative. Of course, as always it seems, even though it was an early show, alcohol must've taken it's effect early, and there was a steady buzz of talkers in the back of the room, which you could hear all too well in the quieter songs.

Speaking of quieter songs, there weren't many of them. He opened with Age Like Wine, and like he apparently did in Little Rock the night before, closed with it too, segueing from it into the big chords of Neil Young's E minor anthem, Heart of Gold. He also covered L.A. Freeway and I think a John Prine song in his encore.

Todd didn't do much storytelling. But he did tell the extended story for Devil's Backbone Tavern, and talked about writing Incarcerated. Incarcerated, by the way, is a much better song live than on the record. I think.

Anyway, Todd looked like he's doing well and having fun again. last time we saw him, it hadn't been that long since Skip Litz died, and it was shortly after we saw him he went into treatment, I think. I remember he had all the stage lights off basically, at that show, and pretty much played in the dark. So, he seems to be doing better now.