"Bloom where you are planted”
Olympia, Paris - 5th October 2012
While we were taking a bus tour of Paris, I noticed a sign: "Bloom where you are planted” I didn’t see what it referred to… but I saw it in action tonight at the Olympia in Paris.
Roger Hodgson blooms wherever he is planted. I have been very lucky to have seen Roger in concert in several countries now, but Paris was an extraordinary experience. The people of Paris have long taken Roger to their hearts and to observe it, and even better, be part of this experience was overwhelming. The breadth and warmth of the love of the French fans is apparent from the moment Roger’s outline is seen emerging from the side of the stage. Olympia erupted; the fans were on their feet to welcome the minstrel for so long, I thought the concert would never start!
Most of the people in this hall have probably seen Roger on more than one occasion and they react to the opening bars of "Take the Long Way Home” as if they are greeting a good friend they haven’t seen for a while. The audience takes the time to listen and appreciate Roger’s songs but as soon as they are finished the fans are up on their feet, letting Roger know how much they appreciate his compositions with many standing ovations.
"Give a Little Bit” brings everyone together. One voice, filling the concert arena with friendships remembered, experienced and continuing… so many nationalities here tonight. There are no borders to a Roger Hodgson concert. "Teach Me to Love Again” is a song that Roger has yet to record… it is a beautiful, emotional and touching song that… hint, hint… deserves to be on an album…
Another highlight for me is "Rosie had Everything Planned.” I have always had a soft spot for this song. I think it’s because I always get an image in my head of Rosie…”with shotgun in hand”! Roger is accompanied by the multi-instrumentalist Aaron Macdonald who plays a wonderful piece on the melodica… although being in Paris; I was expecting to hear it on the accordion!
"Don’t Leave Me Now”… the lyrics to this song striking a chord for many, for different situations… but the stunning thing about this song was the very distinctive rhythmic clapping that started to accompany the latter part of the song, a few fans at first, then it spreads around the hall, building to a crescendo of clapping, keeping the rhythm going… and then Roger, knowing the song is coming to an end, slowly raises his eyes from his keyboard and the fans as one, fall silent… and then erupt into another standing ovation. The minstrel leads and his audience follows.
It is coming to the end of the show. Roger, as is his custom, invites the fans to come down to the front. "Dreamer” is like a floodgate. If you have been keeping your feet still and your body rigid… not anymore. The floor of the Olympia was bouncing. You could feel the enjoyment of this song through the ground beneath you. And so the set completes with the anthemic "Fool’s Overture” a favourite of the fans the world over.
The encore is always a time of mixed emotion. Sadness because you know the concert is ending but coupled with a feeling of squeezing out the last chance of letting emotions burst out. Roger toys with the audience when they shout out "School”. He knows what is expected of him and delivers to the crowd what they want to hear. Everyone joins in being the school children at the beginning of the song, with childish enjoyment.
We finish with "It’s Raining Again” and the crowd sing until they are hoarse… so many different nationalities, different accents, locked arms around friends and neighbours… incredible and such an experience to be part of the international community that has grown up around Roger. Thank you to the French fans who made us feel so welcome.
A Roger Hodgson concert is a very sharing experience… but we leave the concert and take our good memories with us. We don’t always need electronic devices to play Roger’s music. We carry his music in our heads and in our hearts, we go back to where we belong… and bloom where we are planted.