Black Press Staff
KELOWNA – A masterful musician and philanthropist, Roger Hodgson is easy to love.
That overwhelming feeling becomes almost instant whether he’s speaking, singing or playing one chord on a guitar or keyboard during his grocery list of chart-topping ditties.
Hodgson turns 67 in March and his distinct sound and powerful voice flowed beautifully through the Prospera Place concert bowl before 1,924 eye-witnesses Sunday night.
The soft-spoken English-born Hodgson is best known as the former co-frontman and founding member of progressive rock band Supertramp. Hodgson co-composed and sang the majority of their songs before leaving the group in 1983 after a rift with Rick Davies.
Hodgson delivered most of the Supertramp singles the 50- and 60-something crowd came to see, mixing in some newer stuff and giving the spotlight to his bandmates: multi-instrumentalist Aaron MacDonald, keyboardist Kevin Adamson, bass player David J Carpenter and drummer Bryan Head.
They reeled off 19 songs and then performed “Give A Little Bit” and “It’s Raining Again” for the encore in a wonderful two-hour show. Hodgson plays two casinos in Vancouver this weekend and then heads to Arizona on a 27-date tour. He has 18 shows planned in Brazil for 2017 and Europe.
Hodgson opened with monster hit “Take the Long Way Home,” and quickly poked fun at a couple heading to their seats before he cruised into “School.”
“You’re late, “ said Hodgson, without pointing at the two. “You wanna know what you missed? The best song.”
That intimate bit of humour had the crowd wanting more and Hodgson talked some more after nailing “Breakfast in America” and “Lovers In the Wind.”
Last in Kelowna more than a decade ago, Hodgson joked that he “certainly took the long way back to Kelowna.”
The set was warm, featuring six palm trees and the huge words Roger Hodgson sitting against the backdrop of his Crime of the Century album cover.
He thanked fans for a warm welcome and asked everybody to cast their troubles aside and lose themselves in his music.
His fifth song was “Hide In Your Shell” and he said it represents his most requested title, a story about helping people in their darkest moments.
After “Hide in Your Shell”, Hodgson declared “I’m warmed up now” and went into ‘Along Came Mary” off his 2000 album Open The Door.
He marvelled about “the Tim Hortons phenomenon” in Nowhereville Canada and then did a brief alternative version of “Along Came Mary”, using words like double double.
On “Easy Does It” Hodgson asked for the crowd’s help with whistling and a good number of fans worked in unison
Hodgson said he felt blessed to have music to express his feelings and find refuge when necessary. On “Lord Is It Mine”, he referrred to the song “like a prayer.”
Hodgson, whose sweet voice and deep writing of most of Supertramp’s greatest hits that led to more than 60 million record sales, has 60 songs he has never recorded. Before going into “The Awakening” late in his set list, he preached about “forgiveness” and how we are hardest on ourselves.
Adamson was featured on keyboards in “Crime Of The Century” and drew huge applause. Hodgson played the black grand piano and MacDonald, like he was all evening, chipped in beautifully.
Hodgson, who held a coffee cup of water off and on, rocked the house with “Had A Dream: Sleeping With The Enemy”, a rousing 8:26 number with more of a big rock-band sound.
Just before ‘Dreamer”, recorded for Crime of the Century which was Hodgson’s first hit song with Supertramp, Hodgson, sensing the first two rows on the floor were full of adoring, respectful people, asked, “Do You Wanna stand up and come to the front?”
It was a kind and gentle gesture, one which pretty much best summed up Hodgson’s night a thousand miles from his home in L.A.
The band finished with “Fools Overture” which is a progressive piece of music perhaps best suited for the studio, but replicated incredibly live on this night. It was a bone-chilling performance, enhanced with a roadie running across the stage in a jester’s costume.
“We’ve been already talking about coming next year; would you mind if we came back next year?” asked Hodgson, to huge cheers.
As a philanthropist, Hodgson has donated his time and signature song “Give a Little Bit” to help raise funds for Tsunami Relief, Red Cross, UNICEF, World Vision and Hurricane Katrina efforts as well as other worthy causes.
He is part of a Seniors Rock Stars Tour if you will, joining the soon-to-be 72-year-old Rod Stewart, 73-year-old Mick Jagger and Roger Waters, 73, on stages across North America.