Kasim Sulton’s Utopia – Ludlow Garage (review)

Kasim Sulton’s Utopia – Ludlow Garage – 3/11/22 

A crowd-pleasing great night of music

Utopia is one of the most-underrated bands in history.  Sure, the group provided a vehicle for whatever Todd Rundgren’s fancy was at the time.  But, the truth is, Utopia had great songs – a LOT of them.  The band had a knack for writing radio-friendly tracks that, unfortunately only occasionally got played on the radio.

Three of the four original members reunited (sans their keyboardist) for a tour in 2018.  Honestly, that show was a letdown, largely because Rundgren chose to devote the first half of the concert to the early (and frankly, not as good) Prog-rock era of the band.  

Now, here comes Kasim Sulton’s Utopia.  A show that was originally slated two years ago, but had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

Unlike the reunion from four years ago, this show delivered.

The bassist, flanked by guitar, keyboards and drums, ran through a thrilling set of songs that touched on every album from the band’s career.  Opening with the Beatle-esque “I Just Want to Touch You,” the melodic “Call it What You Want,” the even-more-appropriate-now anthem “Swing to the Right,” the rockin’ “Princess of the Universe,” (which the drummer sang), and the slightly funky “Fix Your Gaze.”  One of Sulton’s best Utopia songs, “Libertine,” just flat-out rocked.

“Lysistrata,” and it’s chorus of “won’t go to war / no more” is about as relevant as you can get in these times.  The band did tackle a few proggy numbers, like “The Road to Utopia,” and “Caravan,” giving everyone a chance to stretch out a little. But, it never seemed to drag.   Sulton made sure to throw in some deep cuts as well.  “I’m in Love with a Thinker,” “Hoi Poloi,” and “The Up” were all welcome surprises.  

The encore consisted of “Set Me Free,” the band’s lone top 40 hit, and ended with a song of unity, “One World,” where members of the audience were invited onstage to sing along.

Sulton was in fine voice throughout, frequently joking with the small, but enthusiastic crowd, while the band made sure they were faithful to the original recordings (I love to sing a long to guitar solos :).  

I was commenting to another fan as we were leaving that there was a whole lot more great songs that could’ve been played.  I guess, that’s for next time, right Kasim?  —Tony Peters