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Mike Todd at Cameron House in Toronto – Live Review

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Review by Marcus Medford

Photos by Snapd Queen

Soulful singers and music have become a rarity on top 40 radio charts in recent years but up-and-coming artist Mike Todd is looking to change that. Affectionately known as “a giant teddy bear” Todd is a funny, charismatic and easygoing person but when it comes to music he is deadly serious. Although Todd is only just emerging as a solo artist he’s been a professional musician for 13 years working and travelling with various artists. Other musicians have described Todd as someone with a natural ability to “feel” music as well as create a sense of authenticity in his songs. With his reserves of soul and a powerful voice Todd is able to deliver ferocious vocal performances. In addition to his impressive voice box Todd also endears himself with audiences with his humour and enthusiasm. Last month, Todd had a couple of shows at Cameron House in Toronto to promote his upcoming debut album Good Man where I had a chance to take in the show as well as catch up with him afterwards.

Todd was accompanied by a three-piece band who opened up the show. The band, The Matt Weidinger Trio, is some of Todd’s closest friends and he loves what they do; as did the audience. After just one song toes were tapping, heads were bobbing and people were ready to hit the dance floor. As the Matt Weidinger Trio jammed on stage, the crowd sang along while buying drinks and getting settled, the energy buzzing in the room was fantastic. I thought to myself “If this is the appetizer than the main course must be a real treat.” And it was.

After three songs, Todd joined the Trio on stage and as soon as he began talking the energy level in the room spiked. Todd’s energy and charisma are not limited to his personality either; his music is funky, bluesy, fast-paced, fun to sing along to and full of killer solos to jam to. His first single “Liar” is the perfect example of that; a fun song, with catchy lyrics that are easy to sing along to, smooth harmonies and wicked guitar riffs. The song is just as fun as the music video. Musically Todd is a fusion of Led Zeppelin, Gary Clark Jr. and The Black Keys and like these artists Todd’s soulful delivery can help convey a range of emotions.

Todd describes his music as “fun R&B and funk influenced rock n’ roll” and he draws inspiration from iconic musicians such as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Earth, Wind & Fire. Todd was motivated to make his own music because he couldn’t find as much fun music as he used to which he found frustrating. When making a song Todd wants to make his listeners dance and if he can’t dance to it, it doesn’t make the cut.

“Sometimes it’s like ‘ah, it made me stomp my feet but it didn’t make me shake my shoulders,’” he explained. “It’s easy to get a room full of people to bob their heads but it’s a whole different story to make a room full of people shake their shoulders,” he added.

But it’s more than just making feel-good funky music for Todd; he also wants to make music that makes people “really feel their feelings.” For his upcoming album Good Man, Todd wanted to explore a range of moods and emotions. He compared the album to a live show because of its ups and downs, “It allows listeners to get up and boogie but also take time to get a drink and contemplate on life for a while.”

Todd gave the band a short break to perform his song “You Don’t Know How to Love Me.” The song shows off Todd’s versatility as he went from bouncing around on stage and having the whole room rocking with him standing completely still and captivating the audience with sultry notes from him and his guitar. Effortlessly, Todd was able to take all his energy and enthusiasm and channel it in a way that his performance was calm yet still very powerful. While he sang, no one moved and no one made a sound. Todd brought the entire room into his world for a couple minutes through his emotional lyrics and well-paced delivery and the crowd loved every bit of it; that song garnered the loudest applause from the audience that night.

When asked why he decided to pursue a solo career Todd chuckled and replied, “I was ready. It was time to have a kick of the can.” And although he is still working on fine-tuning some of the small details such as how to handle business with your friends and how to interact with the crowd, Todd is ready to make it in the music industry and he has all the tools to succeed in it.