"My dream for many years was to go to California and see the pretty girls there. I did not know Florida back then.” - Roger Hodgson
It seems like yesterday that Roger Hodgson returned to the stage in the United States for the first time in years. I can still remember the news of his upcoming concert at Pechanga, Southern California, in 2010. Prior to that announcement, many longtime fans had ventured to see him in Canada. The concert would be his first "Breakfast in America” after a long absence in the States. The choice to attend was obvious. So after 30 years of listening to Roger and Supertramp while growing up in Europe, I would finally get the chance to "take a jumbo” to California, just like his song says. Roger has returned to the States many times since that memorable show. The incredible people I met in California also have traveled from coast to coast, state to state, country to country, and even continent to continent to relive that experience in other cities. Indeed, the Roger Hodgson fans are a special group of people. They do not wait for Roger to visit their town; they get on a plane, in a car, on a train, and make their wishes of seeing him play come true.
The news that Roger Hodgson was coming this year to South Florida, where I have been living for over a decade, was a great surprise. No need to "Take the Long Way Home” this time? The Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, would be a great venue. I have never seen an artist in that place who did not return to play there from time to time.
It was the first time that I heard Roger playing with his own band. His songs lend themselves to a variety of musical arrangements, including those of orchestras. He could easily entertain an audience by himself with his guitar. With that said, Roger did create and play some incredible pieces with Supertramp, at a time when "musical journeys” were not uncommon. The hope to hear something in that vein was only natural.
The show began with the classic "Take the Long Way Home,” an anthem in his repertoire and concerts around the world. Roger welcomed the audience to the show, saying that he had not played in South Florida in 30 years. "I definitely took the long way back to Florida,” he said smiling, adding, "It is nice to be down here. We are having the time of our lives.” Given the warmer weather after his shows in Wisconsin, "My guitars are very happy.”
"Leave all your troubles outside the door for the next two hours.” Roger always introduces his songs by saying something special. His second tune of the night, "School,” was no exception. Personally, this was the "a-ha!” moment of the show that made the presence of a band even more special. Those galloping drums sneaking up on you toward the middle of the song, leading into that cathartic bang, it was an emotional reminder of the power of synergy, of teamwork, of Supertramp years ago. The same feeling would happen again with "Hide in Your Shell,” a song that has helped many people during difficult times, and "Fool’s Overture.”
Prior to Roger’s three-part opus, his other hits and solo gems thrilled the audience. The crowd of all ages was overwhelmed, cheering, singing, clapping, and, since Miami is close by, dancing and even more dancing. The band, too, was having a good time.
"Sister Moonshine” was a second personal highlight of the show. Coincidentally, I had just seen the moon going in and out of clouds around sunset. A story that is not new to Roger fans followed, "I was 19 or 20, watching T.V. The Beatles had just gone to America. I thought, I gotta do that.” He continued, "My dream for many years was to go to California and see the pretty girls there. I did not know Florida back then.” For many locals, that was the line of the night.
Following "Breakfast in America,” Roger introduced the band, which did not miss a note the entire evening. The drummer in particular could have been in the studio the day A&M recorded Crime of the Century. The classics "The Logical Song,” "Lord is it Mine,” Supertramp favorite "Child of Vision,” the above-mentioned "Fool’s Overture,” and "Dreamer” concluded the evening. Having asked the audience to come to the front of the stage, "Give a Little Bit” as an encore topped off what was an incredible celebration of music.
"I’ll play one or two [songs] that have been a friend to you.” These were among Roger Hodgson’s first words to the audience at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL, on March 07, 2012. In order of appearance, here are the evening’s friends who showed up for the occasion:
Take the Long Way Home
Lovers in the Wind
Hide in Your Shell
Breakfast in America
Along Came Mary
The Logical Song
Lord is it Mine
Child of Vision
Give a Little Bit