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Monday, October 10, 2011

13:18

Epcot, Orlando, FL ~ October 8 and 9 ~ Reflection by Simone Spanu 



The weather forecast for Orlando on Saturday morning mentioned showers throughout the day. As a European living in Florida for the past 10 years, this type of notice often goes unheeded. It is the Sunshine State, after all, and the rain typically lasts half an hour. Most importantly, Roger Hodgson is "playing in the park” at Epcot once again. Weather is not a deterring factor.

The shows at Disney are unlike a traditional concert. Three 30-minute gigs at different times are meant to offer families visiting the grounds the chance to listen to a few songs and then, perhaps, head to another ride or grab an ice cream with the kids. This was hardly the way things turned out, however, as many in the audience were there to see Roger, while those who stopped by to hear a hit or two ended up staying until the end.

The time is 4:45 at Epcot’s pavilion of Italy, a country that would love to hear Roger’s music live again after many years. One can see the concert stage while standing close to a scaled-down version of Venice’s St. Mark’s Campanile. Moving toward the entrance of the open-air venue, the clock below another bell tower, this time at Disney’s American Adventure, strikes 5:00. The show is on and it is raining, again.

"You are the brave ones!” Roger Hodgson exclaimed as he walked on stage and prepared to play his first song, the classic "Take the Long Way Home.” Thanking the many people who traveled from around the world and the country (Brazil, Belgium, Texas, etc.) to see him, Roger introduced another favorite, hoping the song has been "a friend on your journey”: "Give a Little Bit,” one of the messages that he very much loves.

Despite many rows at the theater having a roof over them, the rain managed to sprinkle in every direction. Those standing or seated in the back remained unfazed. A fan shouted, "The Logical Song”! Roger has an amazing ability to interact with his audience and seize the moment. He often seems to be looking at you with a smile as you sing along with him. This was no exception, as within seconds the first few notes of that song began.

The end of the first half-hour set arrived with "Dreamer” and a dedication to visionaries Steve Jobs and Walt Disney. Particularly striking in this live version were the additional bars before the final chorus, "Come on and dream, dream along…” Roger encouraged the audience to attend the second show.

As the rain relentlessly continued and everyone returned, "It’s Raining Again” could not have been more appropriate; the lighting, the breeze and, of course, the rain created a perfect atmosphere. A mesmerizing version of "School” followed, with guitar and piano beautifully in sync with one another, creating melodies that were not explored in the Supertramp versions.

As the Epcot performances are, in effect, three independent mini concerts, Roger asked the audience to raise their hand if they had attended the first show. In an effort to make sure that everyone got to hear a favorite tune, Roger played a few of his signature songs twice; "Breakfast in America,” "The Logical Song,” and "Take the Long Way Home” were just as beautiful the second time around. Furthermore, it was nice to see kids with their parents smiling, singing, and clapping.

Listening to Roger’s music with the gentle sound of the rain offered a unique musical experience, even to those who have been to many of his concerts throughout the years. "Lord Is It Mine,” one of his most profound lyrics, was no exception. In preparation for the evening's final segment, Roger asked fans to write down on a piece of paper a song they would love to hear and place it in a basket at the front of the stage. 

The opportunity to request a personal favorite had arrived, and the race to find pen and paper was on. Most importantly, given the format of the concert, an interesting question arose. Would Roger play his longer pieces? As he walked on stage holding his fans’ messages, there was a feeling that this was going to be a great ending.

The evening sky had turned completely dark and the next song was the perfect choice, "Sister Moonshine.” Before the break, some of the fans spoke about "Hide in Your Shell,” which Roger also played after saying that many people had requested it. It was becoming clear that this was not going to be like the previous two sets. An all-time personal favorite, "Child of Vision,” the last and longest track on the album Breakfast in America, moved the audience and set the stage for the classic Supertramp grand finale. With a standing ovation, "Fool’s Overture” concluded this memorable, beautiful, magical evening with Roger Hodgson and his music.

As the faithful and happy audience made its way to Epcot’s evening fireworks, the rain over the park began to pour harder. The long distance to the exit made it apparent that many were going to leave the park soaking wet. While humming the songs of the concert on the way to the car, once again that joyful feeling of having witnessed something special arose. There are very few artists who are worth the long journey to see and hear live. Roger Hodgson is one of them.


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