Photo and Story by Scott Smith
Roger Hodgson is proving that he indeed was the golden voice of Supertramp.
The 61-year-old former Supertramp co-leader smiled countless times throughout his hit-filled, solo set Feb. 28 at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa, Okla., near Tulsa, bouncing between piano, electric keyboards and possibly the greatest-sounding 12-string acoustic guitar. Billed as part of his “Breakfast in America: The Voice of Supertramp Tour,” the concert offered ample proof that Hodgson still brings his A-game to the stage.
The Supertramp show-stopper “Take the Long Way Home” came first in the set, surprising many people in the near-capacity audience who expected the 1979 classic to be an encore. “So you think you’re a Romeo, playing a part in a picture show, take the long way home,” Hodgson sang with ease, his voice still registering in strong, first-tenor territory.
Backed by a gifted quartet of musicians who smartly chose to play close to — but not exactly like — the sound and style of the Supertramp originals, Hodgson reached for his 12-string acoustic guitar for “School,” the opening track on Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century” LP from 1974. “School” is a track that finds Hodgson at his most serious. Either Hodgson’s narrative is just ranting against the machine (school, society’s expectations), or its the warped vision of stalker — “I can see you in the morning when you go to school, don’t forget your books, you know you’ve got to learn the golden rule,” “Maybe I was wrong, expecting you to fight …..”
Hodgson returned to his gleeful, kind-faced self for the hopeful “Sister Moonshine,” and when he played the stomping-yet-bouncy “Breakfast in America,” Hodgson won some of the evening’s loudest cheers — and the first of several standing ovations.
Also nestled into the nearly infallible set were “The Logical Song,” “Hide in Your Shell,” “Lovers in the Wind,” “In Jeopardy,” “Lady,” “Child of Vision” and “Don’t Leave Me Now.”
The concert didn’t include “It’s Raining Again,” Hodgson’s 1982, metaphorical good-bye to Supertramp, but a home-run take of “Lord Is it Mine” and splendid readings of “Fool’s Overture” and “Even in the Quietest Moments” more than covered for that omission.
Following the peppy “Dreamer,” Hodgson strapped on his 12-string acoustic guitar for the encore, a faithful reading of his 1977 Supertramp classic, “Give a Little Bit.” The moment Hodgson struck the opening, chiming chords of the song, almost every audience member smiled and stood.
Hodgson’s feel-good vibe jumped even higher as he invited two fans onto the stage. The male fan held a microphone and described the other fan, his girlfriend, before bending one knee and proposing marriage. When the woman offered an enthusiastic “yes,” Hodgson then hugged the couple and wished them decades of happiness.
Backstage, Hodgson was equally friendly and laid-back with VIP ticket-holders, posing for photographs and autographing a few CD and vinyl LP covers. Clayton McGill, a fan who drove from Van Buren, Ark. to attend the concert, told Hodgson that his father once worked for a Radio Shack store.
“Yeah, when I was a kid, my father sold more radios and stereo equipment in that store by playing Supertramp music than any other band,” McGill said as Hodgson smiled. “My father passed away about a year ago.”
Hodgson then placed his left hand on McGill’s shoulder before speaking.
“Well, maybe your father is looking down right now, and, hopefully, he likes what he’s seen and heard tonight.”