Roger Hodgson brings out many great memories and emotions

By Doug Kretchmer on November 22, 2016

Roger Hodgson and his band brought back some great memories. /DOUG KRETCHMER

Albert Schweitzer once said, “The most important years in life are those between nine and 14. This is the time to plant seeds of knowledge in the mind – afterwards it is too late. This is the time to acquaint the young with the great spirits of mankind…”

He said these words at the turn of the 19th century. But these words resonate well with me. I remember those years well. I was listening to Supertramp’s Crisis? What Crisis? and Crime of the Century at 10 years of age.

Supertramp was one of my first big rock shows in Apr. 1977 at 12 years old. I have vivid memories of that show. It was also the first time I experienced tingling up the spine from music, hearing those great songs live.

The second part of Mr. Schweitzer’s quote about acquainting the young with the great spirits of mankind easily refers to people like Roger Hodgson. Many of the songs he’s written definitely have a spiritual feel to them.

Radio personality Howard Mandshein introduced the concert. He said, “When music is done right it captures the soul. It gives you nourishment,” before taking off his hat to a man he truly admires.

Howard Mandshein seemed very thrilled to be introducing Roger once again. “Some of the greatest
songs ever written in the history of music are by this man,” he said. /DOUG KRETCHMER

Howard was blown away when Roger requested that Howard introduce him last year at the sold out Club Regent show. He seemed very happy to once again introduce the man who wrote “some of the greatest songs ever written in history…”

I had the pleasure of meeting Roger in Victoria, BC at the end of his 1988 tour (I also saw the first show of that tour in Vancouver a few months earlier). A good friend from Victoria had a friend who was the manager of the bar where he played. I was invited to the sound check.

One of the photos I took at the Vancouver show Apr. 5, 1998
(which he signed at Club Regent). /DOUG KRETCHMER

After soundcheck was done Roger came off the stage, looked at my friend’s five year-old son, smiled, started singing ’When I was young, felt that life was so wonderful,” picked him up, put him on his shoulders and continued singing the first few verses of “The Logical Song”. It was such a beautiful moment and indeed one of my favourite memories.

I had taken photos of the Vancouver show and gave a set to Roger. He was very grateful. he also signed all of my Supertramp and solo albums as well as a few of the photos.

I saw Supertramp without Roger a few years back. It was a great show also, but it just wasn’t the same without him. When Roger left the band in 1983, Rick trademarked the Supertramp name and a mutual agreement was made that the band not play any of the songs that Roger had written.

It’s quite interesting that after the huge success of Supertramp, Roger walked away from that to dedicate more time to his family and spiritual life. I think that just goes to show what kind of person he is.

During that time he released three very successful albums in his home studio.

After the first song “Take the Long Way Home” Roger assured us that they, “Took the shortest way possible back to Winnipeg.”

Then he asked how we’ve been, “a difficult question to answer nowadays.” Then he added, “For the next two hours, however you’ve been doing, just leave it outside. Let’s just come together and have some fun…music can be a great medicine.”

For the first time ever (we were his “guinea pigs”) he played electric guitar instead of the usual acoustic guitar for “School”. The experiment worked.

Supertramp’s songs have always been very original compositions, incorporating instruments that weren’t too typical to rock music and the sax and piano on Breakfast in America brings listeners to a very special place.

Roger’s sax player on this tour plays tenor, alto and soprano sax as well as penny whistle, harmonica and keyboards. His backing band is very tight and did a great job covering all of the songs.

He mentioned that, “I think that love is the most important thing in life,” before playing the thoughtful “Lover’s in the Wind”.

“Hide in Your Shell” is the most requested song in Roger’s repertoire and many people have mentioned this song has helped them through tough times. He wrote the song when he was going through tough times himself. He said he was happy to have written a song that has helped others in their lives.

There’s a line in the song that says, “I as a boy, I believed the saying the cure for pain was love.” I might add the cure for pain might be a good Roger Hodgson song.

After playing “Along Came Mary” he played an alternative version, pressured by the Canadians in the band…“Was alone and I found Tim Horton, met a girl I soon was courtin’, Was amazed when she gave me trouble, solved that with a double double…” He promised us another verse next time.

Next he got the audience to whistle the beginning of “Easy Does It”. He related how some of his songs were like prayers. “Lord Is It Mine” is a great example of this.

I know that there’s a reason why
I need to be alone
I know that there’s a silent place
that I can call my own
Is it mine? Oh, Lord, is it mine?

You know I get so weary from
the battles in this life
And as many times it seems
that you’re the only hope in sight
Is it mine? Oh, Lord, is it mine?

When everything’s dark, and
nothing seems right,
You don’t have to win, and
there’s no need to fight

I never cease to wonder at the
cruelty of this land
But it seems a time of sadness
is a time to understand
Is it mine?
Oh, Lord, is it mine?

When everything’s dark, and
nothing seems right,
You don’t have to win, and
there’s no need to fight

If only I could find a way
To feel your sweetness through the day
The love that shines around me could be mine
So give us an answer, won’t you?
We know what we have to do
There must be a thousand voices trying to get through

Songwriting straight from the heart. Beautiful.

His love and compassion seems to extend to all living creatures as evidenced in the song ‘”Death & a Zoo”. The song puts the listener into the mind of an animal from the wild that is caught and put into a zoo.

This song and “Along Came Mary” are from his last album Open the Door, which I must admit I haven’t listened to much, but think I’ll go out and buy the album as I quite enjoyed them. Great compositions.

Roger shared the background to some of the songs like “Even in the Quietest Moments” which he wrote while alone in the mountains in Northern California. He shared how “Fool’s Overture” started out as three pieces of music over five years that one day “magically came together.”

He also shared some of his songwriting techniques, such as being alone in nature and going deep inside himself.

He ended the evening with “Give A Little Bit”, which had the audience on their feet, singing along to. I would say he gave us a lot more than just “a little bit.” He gave us some great memories.

The concert at Club Regent was indeed a magical one. It was obvious that the audience was quite thrilled and enjoying the show, but looking at all the smiling faces on stage, it was quite apparent that the musicians were also having a great time as well.

I talked with Al, the lighting tech, whose been on the tour for only two weeks. He said that Roger is a great, down to earth guy to work for. His lighting work created a nice ambience to the room.

Ellen, the woman at the merch table, said she noticed some very happy people coming out of the show and could feel the good vibes.

There were a few songs on the set list that weren’t played:
“The More I Look”
“It’s Raining Again”

Howard Mandshein introduces Roger Hodgson video:

All photos and video by Doug Kretchmer


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