Supertramp's Roger Hodgson still loves the hits after all these years

By Jenelle Janci
July 12, 2018

When a musician pens a hit song, audiences expect to hear it night after night.

The late Dolores O’Riordian of the Cranberries got sick of “Zombie.” Neil Young has called “Heart of Gold” a “bore.” And Oasis musician Liam Gallagher told MTV the thought of “Wonderwall” makes him gag.

Roger Hodgson, the songwriter and voice behind Supertramp’s biggest hits, couldn’t be more different. 

Give a Little Bit,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “Breakfast in America,” “The Logical Song — Hodgson still performs them all with genuine joy.

“I enjoy playing these songs every night. … I actually just did take a six-month break, and just coming back to them was like falling in love all over again,” says Hodgson, 68.

Hodgson will perform these Supertramp hits and more when he takes the stage Sunday night at American Music Theatre.

Hodgson performed in Supertramp from 1969-83. He parted ways with the band after the “Famous Last Words” tour to spend more time with his young family. Since, he’s released three solo albums.

These days, Hodgson is focused on providing a special atmosphere for his audiences.

“There’s a real feeling of love and celebration that happens in the shows that brings people back again and again,” Hodgson says. “I have to say, I’m right there with them enjoying it with them as well, because it’s very intimate. I even had someone call it a love fest the other day.”

Hodgson says his typical setlist includes everything from the aforementioned megahits to quieter love songs like “Lord is it Mine” and the grandiose solo track “Fool’s Overture.” He attempts to create an arc during the show that he likens to the process of arranging tracks on a record.

“I have them captive for two hours, so I can really take them on an amazing journey,” Hodgson says. “And what happens at the end is that they are full. Their hearts are open, people are unified, people are smiling, people are singing, people are on their feet.”

He doesn’t just barrel through the setlist, either. Hodgson often tells the stories behind the songs, in hopes of providing a new perspective, even for listeners who have been fans for decades.

“It takes the enjoyment and the enrichment of the song to a whole other level for a lot of people,” Hodgson says.

Hodgson’s concert preparation begins as soon as he wakes up.

“I have techniques to leave my problems behind when I go on stage to really access being happy and at peace and enjoy myself, because I know the only times my voice doesn’t work is when I go on stage feeling grumpy,” Hodgson says.

Sometimes he achieves that with a visualization or meditation technique. Other times it’s freshening up with a short nap before the show.

The musician’s distinct voice is known for soaring high, and he thinks it has only become finer with age.

“I think I’m singing better, but it’s interesting how many people say that,” Hodgson says. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh my god, you’re singing better than you did on the albums,’ and I feel that.”

Hodgson says it’s common for fans to tell him the show evokes nostalgia and reminds them of their own youth. He says he sees crowds with listeners of all generations, even some who have yet to reach double digits.

“I looked out the other day and I saw an 8-year-old in the audience,” Hodgson says. “I actually spoke to him and asked how old he was. He was singing ‘Dreamer,’ and ‘Give a Little Bit’ and ‘It’s Raining Again.’ There really is a childlike quality to a lot of these songs that children love.”

He knows that some younger audience members might have found their way to Supertramp’s music through the many covers and interpretations of his songs, from the Goo Goo Doll’s version of “Give a Little Bit” to Gym Class Heroes’ “Cupid’s Chokehold,” which leans heavily on the melody of “Breakfast in America.”

No matter their route to finding his music, Hodgson is happy his songs have stood the test of time. “I truly do feel like the luckiest man on Earth to be able to make a living, doing what I love to do, making people happy, and then taking them away from their problems for two hours,” Hodgson says. “That’s what keeps me going.”

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