Roger Hodgson delights Melbourne
Touring down under – The Roger Hodgson Band. Photo: Brian Tierney
Australian tour opener finds Supertramp co-founder in fine voice
and with a band to match
Review by Mike Sweet
The elegant Palais Theatre in Melbourne’s St Kilda district sits next to
Luna Park, the city’s iconic funfair – and if the tunnel of love was doing
good business next door, another opened in the art deco theatre last night –
as nearly 2000 fans welcomed Roger Hodgson back to Australia.
Two years after his last visit Hodgson is back, accompanied not just by
the amazing multiskilled instrumentalist Aaron Macdonald, but band members
Bryan Head (drums), Kevin Adamson (keyboards) and David J Carpenter (bass).
And this tight-knit combo delivers in spades. The set-opener Take the
Long Way Home set the tone for the evening – a feast of Hodgson’s
classic songs, most of which became anthems for a generation of Supertramp
fans – the British rock band that Hodgson fronted from the early 1970s up
until his departure in 1983.
Hodgson’s banter from the beginning set the tone for an evening. “These
songs are my life journey,” says Roger, before Aaron Macdonald’s harmonica
blows the haunting opening to School from Crime of the Century
– the 1974 album that was a game-changer in the ‘tramps evolution from
hopeful prog-rockers to stadium stardom.
Unsurprisingly, songs from ‘Crime’ continue to be highlights of Hodgson’s
live performances, and for good reason.
“A line or a lyric can make you feel you’re not alone. Music can hold
memories like nothing else,” says Roger, before a powerful Hide in your
Shell pushes the set into overdrive.
And there’s the rub; memory and music. Most of the audience first heard
these songs as twenty-somethings or younger, in seemingly simpler, more
innocent days. Their response to the songs and their author – is that of a
chance meeting with a long lost friend.
Easy does it – the chorus to which the audience whistles along
to enthusiastically – segues into Sister Moonshine before Hodgson
reveals his motivation for the title song of what became Supertramp’s most
commercially successful album.
“An 18-year-old I had these dreams of beautiful californian girls,” he
says before serving up a rousing Breakfast in America.
All the while – with bewildering artistry – Aaron Macdonald is stage
left, his saxophone, melodica and harmonies now a rich integral part of
Hodgson’s sound and stagecraft.
The band haven’t played together for three months since their last gig in
the US, but nail each and every song with verve and authority.
Roger’s plaintive, powerful plea for self-knowledge – The Logical
Song finishes the first set before an intermission puts the music on
pause. But no worries – no-one’s in a hurry on this journey tonight.
The band pick up where they left off – a pulsating Child of Vision
before Death and a Zoo – Hodgson’s musing from his 2000 album
Open the Door on the incarceration of wild animals – complete with
trumpeting elephants and baboons hollering in some hot African night.
After Lord is it Mine the insistent staccato chords of
Dreamer ring out, as fresh and urgent as they sounded almost nearly 40
Having been invited to once more put our hands in our head to work out
what’s going on in our lives, the set closer, as it was for Supertramp so
many times, is a stirring Fool's Overture.
The evening concludes with a magical Two of Us before Give a little Bit has the audience on their feet, dancing and clapping along in rapturous celebration. It’s Raining Again keeps that joyful spirit going to the last.
Brisbane, Tivoli, March 30,
Take the long way Home
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