ROGER HODGSON IN TOULOUSE
September 27th, 2010
Review by JESUS FUENTES
You don’t need to be Roger Hodgson’s biggest fan to guess the concert went to start with "Take the Long Way Home”. Neither to know his entrance on the stage went to be simple and quiet from his part. However, it was surprising to see how the almost 1,200 people topping the Casino Theater Barriere at Toulouse stood up to offer him a warm welcome.
After this song there was place to address the first words to his audience. And leaving a lot astonished, they were in French: "Bonsoir, Toulouse… Mon Français est très bon” (Good evening, Toulouse… My French is real good)”.
Grabbing the English when it became necessary, he started a brief speech to justify the French tour: "This is a very special tour to me because it’s the first one in France after I left Supertramp, almost 30 years now. My managers proposed me to play in Paris, but I told them "Hey, but why only in Paris, I want to play in the provinces as well!”.
He took the chance as well to transmit a thought which for sure the audience was about to have into account for the whole concert: "It’s also a special tour because it’s much more intimate, as far as you are going to discover the songs the same way I wrote them, with no further music settings. And by this way, you’ll be able to better connect with the moments in my life which inspired me those songs. In other words, I’m going to try that you touch my heart through my voice”.
Holding his guitar, next song was also the one expected. "Give a Little Bit”, giving way to "Lovers in the Wind” with Roger on the piano. After that, he came back to speech: "One of the things that satisfies me the most is to read letters and e-mails from somebody who thanks me because one of my songs helped him during hard times in his life. And that’s why this song is very special too, because I wrote it during a critical moment in my life.
"Hide in Your Shell” just arrived and, once again, no need to bet about so many in the audience feeling totally identified with Roger’s words to his audience. "Easy Does It” and"Sister Moonshine” continued the show, before one of the most humoristic moments of the evening.
"Je veux vous presenter mon ami Aaron” (I want to introduce you my friend Aaron), and the mentioned, after the deserved ovation, added in a not very tough French: "Bonsoir Toulouse, c’est un grand plaisir d’être ici ce soir” (Good evening, Toulouse, it’s a big pleasure to be here tonight). With a hard-to-stop laugh and pointing to Roger, he added, now in English: "He‘s my teacher”, letting know that he wouldn’t be able to add much further words in the local language. Everyone in the auditorium, musicians included, couldn’t stop laughing.
Later on, a new Roger’s wink to the audience: "Which song do you want now?”. People shouting "School", "Logical", "Breakfast", "Dreamer", but Roger just heard from the first row of seats the words he was looking for: "That‘s right, School will come later on, now is the turn for "C‘est Le Bon””, just to give way right after to "Breakfast In America”, where during the last chords, Roger took the chance to make a sign to Aaron while he complaint "It’s too short!!!”, and by this way continuing with a repetition of the last part in order to extend a little bit the song.
Once finished, irony came over again: "What a deep song… Don’t you look at my girlfriend, because she’s the only one I got… Not much of a girlfriend… In fact she left me!”.
"Along Came Mary” and "A Soapbox Opera” were in charge of introducing another one of the most expected songs: "When I was a child, I had a lot of questions… Beaucoup de questionnes. Where do we come from, who are we, where do we go… Questions that my parents weren’t able to fully answer. Twelve years in the school not only didn’t throw some light on my questions, but also served to raise even more questions. And all of this inspired me to write "The Logical Song”.
After raising up the whole auditorium again, Aaron and Roger joined each other in the middle of the stage to thank the audience, while the later was warning "we haven‘t finished yet!!!” "Let’s do a 15 minutes break and we come back”. In fact this break lasted up to 25 minutes, maybe too much for an audience who was already totally devoted to the artists.
But the most intense moment of the evening was still to come, with "Child Of Vision” and its particular solos dogfight with Roger on keyboards and Aaron on the piano. With this performance, the Canadian earned the title of "orchestra-man", after playing saxophone, clarinet, harmonica, keyboards and synthesizers all along the show. Before starting "Lord Is It Mine”, Roger came joking again: "It‘s hot!!!”, he shouted after touching the piano keys that moments before had been Aaron’s property. And looking straight into him, he added: "Hey, this is my piano!!!”.
Final leg of the concert was composed by "Say Goodbye”, "Know Who You Are” and "Don’t Leave Me Now». Just before going into another of the most awaited hits,"Dreamer”. Right now nobody could be surprised of seeing the whole auditorium standing up, rhythmically clapping the song. But one can imagine the magnificence of the moment just analysing the fact that, inside this devoted audience, standing up in a lateral corridor of the auditorium, there she was one of Roger‘s managers, clapping and dancing like she was another one of the attendants in their first Roger show since he quitted Supertramp.
"Dreamer” finished, there was no way out for Roger apart from thank the locals: «J’adore France. On fait, j’ai habité pour une année en Bretagne. C’était très bon» (I love France. In fact, I lived in Bretagne for one year. It was really nice). He continued to introduce the next song: "in the beginning, I had three different pieces of a song spinning around my desktop for 5 years… Then, one day, suddenly, as it was some kind of magic inside, the three parts joined together into a song”. It was the turn for "Fool’s Overture” and with it, the unofficial end of the concert.
But of course it longed the encores. Two minutes after their departure, the artists jumped again into stage to play a medley composed by "Surely” and "School”, where Aaron completed the full round of instruments, playing this time the keyboards.
The audience had sung, danced, clapped, laughed… What else could Roger do for them? To attack them right into the heart. With "It‘s Raining Again” the concert touched its end, leaving the audience with a kind of doing-fine feeling. However, Roger was promptly disturbing people’s peace of mind: "A bientôt” (See you soon). You can bet that many in the audience are already wondering when this new date will be.