|Friday, March 29, 2013
Clearwater, FL ~ March 22, 2013 ~ Reflection by Irene Casottana-Greenslade
"Lady...you've come across the water..."
Yes, I finally did it! I took a Jumbo across the water to go and see Roger Hodgson perform with his band and orchestra!
My Florida adventure started with a very full and overbooked flight from London, and it was only thanks to the Captain of my flight that I got special permission to use a crew seat for take off and landing an therefore be able to travel! Soon there I was, standing, on a 10 hour flight to Tampa, without the distraction of any in-flight entertainment, passing time just singing and rehearsing the words of all the songs I knew I was going to hear a couple of nights later in Clearwater! The excitement of the anticipation kept building as I knew that special friends were waiting for me at the other end and, after thanking the Captain for such a special 'lift', I just could not get off that plane fast enough! Happiness had taken over me by this point, I could not stop smiling all the way through the airport and I must admit I particularly enjoyed the look of the American Border officials when they learnt the sole purpose of my journey was to watch my favourite musician play!
Many people and critics have recently said or written that Roger Hodgson sounds better now than he ever did with Supertramp: I wholeheartedly agree. I am too young to have had the opportunity to see him
live with his original band, but I have all the LPs and CDs and the difference in warmth, confidence, precision of his voice and the strength of his interpretations is stunning. Roger's latest CD "Classics Live"
is the proof. It seems that with his new band he has reached a different place, a comfortable one, where he can rely on the excellent musicality and professionalism of all of his band mates and just ENJOY, letting music run through him without having to worry about anything.
I had seen Roger perform 4 times before and each time I get the same feeling: he thoroughly enjoys playing, he enjoys singing what he calls his "babies", he enjoys the two-way relationship with his audience, he enjoys the fuss that the most affectionate of fans reserve for him. And this is something unique, something that differentiates his fans from the rest: they truly adore him, and that love sits on a different level, it's a mixture of gratitude for playing for them, for maybe taking them on a journey through time or for bringing joy to their present, and genuine affection for the musical genius who comes across as a humble, sensitive, giving, spiritual human being.
The show was just brilliant. I was lucky to sit next to my "international fan community" friends who had travelled such a long way like me to be there, friends who have become like family to me, and that was truly special.
The orchestra and band were introduced at 8pm sharp and it only took seconds of Roger being on stage for the whole audience to spontaneously burst into a loud "happy birthday to you" choir. That gave me the biggest goosebumps you can imagine and I immediately knew I was in for an unforgettable night! Roger, his band and orchestra, serenaded us with Roger's most beautiful songs like Take the Long way home, Breakfast in America, Hide in your shell, Lovers in the wind, School, a soapbox opera, If everyone was listening, the Logical song, Fools Overture, Lord is it mine?, Dreamer, Child of vision, Two of us, and my favourite "Even in the quietest moments". A standing ovation followed each song, fans were so enthusiastic and totally taken by the beauty of the performance. I also loved watching the musical engagement, discipline and obvious enjoyment of the whole band who were playing together again after what felt like a long winter break! The game of lights added to the experience whilst we were treated to a commendable quality of sound, thanks to Roger's famous Mr GoodSound! Where I was sitting the drum sound was so clear I could enjoy every single little detail, and the orchestra was well balanced so not to cover the Minstrel's voice but yet make their presence heard at the right time. Two hours flew away and it was time for the audience to say goodbye to Roger, who promised to return to Florida soon, with what felt like an endless applause.
Some people say that once you see one of his shows it becomes an addiction and you need to book the next one, and that is exactly what was being discussed and organised amongst the long line up of fans waiting to be escorted backstage to shake hands with the Minstrel himself.
Soon it was my turn to say hello to Roger and for the first time I was finally able to open up my heart, let the words flow and personally thank him for being the megaphone of my heart,for positively influencing me as a musician and in turn for making me a better human being. It was lovely to be able to share my feelings with him and I will be forever grateful to Roger's managers who have made this possible.
This trip across the water has definitively confirmed my feelings that Roger Hodgson seems to be surrounded by an increasing web of beautiful human beings. The few days I spent in Florida have reinforced some pre-existing friendships and have created new, totally unexpected and beautiful ones, and my heart has grown two sizes as a consequence. This precious time spent with my musical friends, old and new, who are somehow involved with our Minstrel and his music has really reconnected me with who I really am and has taught me that love and kindness are very contagious!
I wish everybody the chance to live the same experience at least once. A Roger Hodgson show is more than just a concert, it's even more than just superb music and a celebration of friendship: it's the key to feeling the world on the palm of your hand, it's a beautiful piece that perfectly slots into the jigsaw that is our soul. Thank you Roger, what an extraordinary gift!!!!
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