Buffalo News



Hodgson, crowd adore hearing Supertramp hits 30 year later


By Joe Sweeney
August 22, 2012, 12:11 AM


LEWISTON – Tuesday night, a classic rock legend named Roger played at Artpark. He’s estranged from his former bandmates, who continue to use the group’s name even though he wrote most of their hits. He has a penchant for high concepts and ambitious arrangements, and deeply distrusts the British education system. And no, he had nothing to do with “The Wall.”

I’m talking about Roger Hodgson, the co-founder and primary creative force behind Supertramp, who gave the Lewiston faithful a lovingly polished, 90-minute set full of ’70s radio staples, obscure solo album epics, sundry keyboard patches and sarcastic institutional put-downs.

The man might not deliver his messages with the same gravitas as Roger Waters, but when Hodgson wants to use his childhood boarding school as a metaphor for why society is so hopelessly screwed up – and on a track that came out the same year as “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” to boot – the desired endgames of the two men are strikingly similar.

“The Logical Song” is where Hodgson pulls that trick, and when the 62-year-old and his new four-piece band dusted it off Tuesday, it sounded as lithe and profound as ever, its rubbery melody and quirkily introspective lyric standing out from today’s mainstream sounds as starkly as it must have among the id-driven hard rock and disco of 1979.
The show as a whole had a fresher energy than your typical sleepwalking-to-the-oldies bargain ticket, with Hodgson in a marvelously fine voice, hitting the falsetto notes of “Dreamer” like it was nothing, and his band lending a joyful flair to those idiosyncratic Supertramp melodies.

Brilliant multi-instrumentalist Aaron MacDonald was all over the place – whether it was the throaty sax solos from “Breakfast in America,” the jaunty harmonica of the opening “Take the Long Way Home,” a penny-whistle flourish or a beatbox woodblock breakdown.

But the reasons for the pleasantly unjaded vibe go deeper than that. Hodgson quit Supertramp in 1983, and then music as a whole in 1987, to focus on raising his kids.

This show was part of his first American tour in 30 years. Performing these tunes again after all this time is clearly a pleasure for him.

 When he told the crowd, “I’m just adoring what I’m singing every night,” he clearly meant it.
So you essentially had the ideal set-up for a Supertramp fan in 2012, short of a reunion. A thoroughly rejuvenated Hodgson digging through his back catalog with as much verve as his followers, and performing it with a dewy sense of discovery, the gratitude for our affections plain on his face.

And if you approached these war horses of classic rock radio Tuesday with the same fresh perspective as the dude who wrote them, their bizarre little gifts would have struck you all over again.

 The way the breezy melody of “Take the Long Way Home” belies the bottled-up suburban sadness of the lyrics.
 The scathing disses of celebrity culture in “Breakfast in America” (e.g. “I’m a sinner/Do you want my autograph?”). The completely genuine flower-power pleas of “Give A Little Bit,” which are all the more affecting when cast against  election season.

“I know it sounds absurd/Please tell me who I am,” Hodgson begs in “The Logical Song.” That’s an easy one, sir. You are an artist.


For article online: Buffalo News