Translation:  Uwe Nessler

Melancholy of a Supertramp

Concert – With a touch of hope: Roger Hodgson in the Alte Oper

By Stephan Goerisch


Frankfurt. Roger Hodgson, born in 1950 in British Portsmouth, is having a lot of friends – such a lot that on Saturday evening, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt was a little bit more than sold out: a few seats were occupied twice. The Briton co-founded the band Supertramp in 1969.  He wrote and sang their biggest successes, until he signaled his exit in 1984 with the solo album, “In the Eye of the Storm.” After an accident caused time out, Roger returned again in 2000 with “Open the Door” with new songs.  Since 2006, he has been touring intensively.

The fans in Frankfurt certainly needed a lot of patience until their idol entered the stage: Before the Supertramp guy, there was a one-and-a-half hour long, heavy on the basses, roughhousing Funk program with the female singers Bonita and Isabel, accompanied by the eleven-numbered music project Funky Style Coalition, finally expanded by the cuddly string-pack Omnia String Orchestra. A interjectioner from the audience who turned primarily against the extensive unctuous announcements of the funkband leader was instructed by Bonita that as a child she also wanted everything immediately – but now she is grown up.

This punchline was a hit, but Hodgson's music has nothing in common with funk, even if at the finale these funk men were allowed to accompany him. This extensive entourage was surely not needed – his big hits were basically brought by him alone. He changed his accompanying instruments almost constantly, from the beginner, “Take the Long Way Home” and “Hide in Your Shell” at the keyboard, across “Give a Little Bit” at the twelve-string guitar, to “Lovers in the Wind” at the grand piano. The sound of his unbelievable high voice was clear, seemed except for a few moments to be hassle free – he taunted himself about his drive to write extremely high pieces, like “Oh Brother,” which heights claimed all his concentration. Hodgson's songs are mostly melancholic but always with a breath of hope, sometimes life, and world-wisely: “I am reaching a point there´s nothing left for me.”

Hodgson is a excellent musician. To widen the sound spectrum of his arrangements, he has found within the Canadian Aaron MacDonald an equal partner who sang backing vocals, played the solos on tenor and soprano saxophone, on blues harp and melodica. There he cited sometimes in highest perfection the popular studio versions, then he let the hot saxophone sound run in his free lust to jam. At the Pas de Deux on two claviatures at “The More I Look” (actually, it was “Child of Vision”) Hodgson countered this with charming left-handed deep bass excursions.

Hodgson also showed up as a excellent entertainer. Constantly, he greeted the audience. In his announcements, he built ceaseless bridges to sympathy – being glad that there were such a lot of kids in the audience, being glad about the last evening of a long tour. It was clear that “School,” “Dreamer,” “Breakfast in America” had finally marked the high  and final phases.