Is a Roger Hodgson show the best Supertramp concert you will ever see?
According to his fans, the answer is yes. Last night (July 18th) at the Bergen Performing Arts Center, the prog-rock icon enchanted his fans with both Supertramp and solo hits. Though, they are nearly indistinguishable, as Hodgson served as the songwriter for the groups biggest hits. The night consisted of songs from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, as well as the group’s other albums and Hodgson’s solo efforts.
Hodgson’s genius as a songwriter has been cemented in American culture for generations. Throw a dart at your dial and you’re bound to find “Take The Long Way Home,” “It’s Raining Again,” or “The Logical Song” somewhere on FM radio at any given moment. This said, it is surprising to learn that Hodgson — nor his former bandmates — are in any of the pertinent Halls of Fame. This continued snub of Hodgson and Supertramp is incredibly well noted.
Until now, this review has been unable to separate the man from the band that made his songs a house hold name. Perhaps that is because, in some way, they are inextricably linked. Hodgson said in an interview last week that he wrote many of Supertramp’s hits before the group even formed. Perhaps, while he was even in “School.” (Sorry, I had to.)
But on this night in New Jersey, Hodgson found himself backed by musicians equally as talented as anyone with whom he has ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage. Featured member of the band, Michael Ghegen, had the sole duty of playing all the wind instruments for Hodgson. To be clear: He. Absolutely. Shredded. It. Whether it was playing a note-perfect harmonica on “Long Way,” or a glorious Alto Sax on “Fool’s Overture.” Speaking with him after the show, Ghegen joked, “Roger’s range is still so high, which makes my job a b*tch. But it is so much fun and I love every minute of. Ghegen joined Hodgson’s tour in June.
The amazingly talented band is exactly why the show lasted a staggering two hours and twenty minutes, minus one intermission. Normally, an artist can get 20-26 songs in. Mr. Hodgson and crew only managed approximately 18. Mind you, that was with a deserved standing ovation in between each number. Still though, the length of the songs, combined with the gorgeous, emotional complexity of each instrumentation, made the show feel like more music had been played than could ever fit in a two-plus-hour concert.
At times, the arrangements seemed to push Hodgson’s iconic voice to the background. A fact which he totally embraced. For Roger, his music is not just what comes out of his voice. His music lives in every note every musician in his band plays. Fans sense a genuine soul in this, leading to a connection and mutual love not often found between artist and audience. Roger has an emotional awareness few artists have, poured out through every beat in his music. And that is why a Roger Hodgson concert will be the best Supertramp show you will ever see.