|Friday, November 19, 2010
Lithium Magazine Review ~ November 12 Performance at Casino Rama
Roger Hodgson (Formerly of Supertramp) Casino Rama, Orillia - November 12th, 2010
by Laurie Lonsdale
Photos by Scott McAlpine & Linda Gianotti
Roger Hodgson, best known for co-fronting the British progressive rock act of Supertramp and writing the songs that led them to outstanding success throughout the 70s and 80’s, took the stage at Casino Rama, Friday November 12th as part of what he says is "becoming a tradition”. Sure enough, he played the same venue at approximately this same time last year, and the masterpiece of that performance was evident in the overwhelming number of repeat show goers this time around.
Though hype and listings prior to the show indicated that Hodgson would be appearing with a symphony, the description didn’t nearly do justice to such an elaborate production, considering the stage housed a full orchestra and conductor, an 18-piece choir, 3 back-up singers, and Hodgson’s regular band, bringing the total number of performers to around the 60 mark…… plus one – Hodgson himself, who over-delivered the entire night.
With the haunting intro to "School” playing in the background, Hodgson was introduced to the packed house amidst a bombardment of cheers and hollers. He joined the intro mid-stream with familiar vocals and guitar, building to the recognizable crescendo and launching fully into the infamous song, taken from Supertramp’s 1974 release of Crime of the Century. Though he’s showing his age of late, certainly the years haven’t affected his voice, which sounded the same as it did in the band’s heyday, or quite possibly even better. The song finished with the crowd on its feet and applauding fervently.
Hodgson took some time to address the audience, acknowledging that the majority were from out of town and thanking everyone for coming. A quick survey of the crowd revealed an astonishing number of attendees that were seeing the show for their second and third time. He also expressed his love of the venue, explaining that he’d purposely chosen to cap off his world tour with a two-night stay at Rama. "Let me take you on a journey,” he concluded, then forsaking his guitar in favour of keyboards, he nodded to the conductor and commenced with "Long Way Home”.
As Hodgson said, the two-hour show was indeed a journey. And, it was an amazing one at that, full of nostalgia and epic music, presented within a flawless performance of such precise instrumentation, rich sound, and spot-on vocals, that at times it was spine tingling. From keyboards to piano, up next was "Lovers in the Wind”, from Hodgson’s 1984 solo album In the Eye of the Storm, followed by several Supertramp hits including "Hide in Your Shell”, "Breakfast in America”, and "If Everyone was Listening”. With a constant switch-up between piano, keys, and guitar, he kept right on going with "The Logical Song” and "Lord, Is It Mine?”
A few solo tunes were then integrated with "The Awakening” and "It’s Only Because of You” before Hodgson returned to classic Supertramp with "Dreamer”, a song that perfectly showcases his astonishing vocal ability given that its almost entirely sung in the upper register.
Hodgson and the orchestra closed out the set with the complicated, lengthy, and at times frenzied "Fool’s Overture”, and once more a standing ovation ensued as the crowd attempted to express their appreciation and sheer delight for the awe-inspiring show. Though Hodgson waved and made his exit, fans continued to cheer and beckon him back to the stage. A few minutes later he returned with three more memorable songs in the form of "Two of Us”, "Give a Little Bit”, and "It’s Raining Again”. The latter plainly was not meant to be included given that Hodgson had already bid goodnight to the crowd a second time and was again about to exit the stage. Nevertheless, he quickly conferred with the conductor and added it last minute, evidently because he was enjoying the joyful response and outpouring of love he was receiving from fans.
In all my years of listening to Supertramp’s music, never before have I appreciated the depth and intricacies of the compositions, as much as I did during this show. Hodgson’s remarkable talent and watertight performance left me dumbstruck and singing his praises for such an outstanding body of work.
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