Roger Hodgson

September 16, 2012
Taste of Newport
Newport Beach, CA

Review by Shawn Perry
Photos by Ron Lyon

When you go to see someone like Roger Hodgson perform, you realize how powerful and resounding certain songs can be. Certainly, “Dreamer,” “The Logical Song,” “Breakfast In America” and “Give A Little Bit” — all sung and written by Hodgson — continue to garner airplay and widespread adulation. In fact, “Give A Little Bit” was recently re-recorded by Hodgson and a choir of youthful singers for a unique, very positive Coca-Cola spot.

Topping off the 24th annual, three-day Taste of Newport, Hodgson was warmly welcomed on a cool Sunday evening. As I was to find out, many in attendance were Roger Hodgson diehards, some even flying in for tonight and Tuesday’s show in San Diego. During a post-show interview, the singer told me he’s amazed how his songs have stood the test of time, and looking over the audience tonight, I couldn’t agree more.

Prior to his appearance at the Taste of Newport, I hadn’t seen Hodgson since 1983 when he rolled through the Forum in Los Angeles for one last time with Supertramp. After leaving the band, he released several very successful solo albums throughout the 80s and eventually left the business to raise his children. Having sold over 20 million copies of Breakfast In America, it's reasonable to believe he was set for life and could live out his days on his own terms.

Like any well-worn musician, Hodgson found his way back to the limelight, realizing there was indeed an audience dying to hear this music live. Tonight, accompanied by woodwind and keyboardist Aaron MacDonald, drummer Bryan Head, keyboardist Kevin Adamson and bassist David Carpenter, that pleading tenor voice of Supertramp echoed through the streets of Fashion Island and it was as if someone had flipped on the radio in the late 70s.

The set opened with “Take The Long Way Home,” one of the two Top 10 singles Hodgson sang on Breakfast In America. ‘School” from Crime Of The Century was next, and it sounded incredibly crisp and faithful to the original. Hodgson’s voice, for all its fragile flavorings, fits this song like a body glove while the band sounded as good, if not better, than Supertramp at their peak.

It wasn’t all about Supertramp either. Hodgson played “In Jeopardy” from his first solo album, 1984’s In The Eye Of The Storm, and the reggae-style “London” from 1987’s Hai Hai. He also trotted out the exotically tinged “Death And A Zoo” from his last studio solo album, 2000’s Open The Door. This one especially exhibited a majestic arch reminiscent of Hodgson’s best work with the band he left almost 30 years ago. Clearly, the man still has a lot more music to give.

As this tour boasts a Breakfast In America theme, it would only seem, uh, logical that Hodgson would play every song he sang on that album including the title track, “The Logical Song,” “Lord Is It Mine’ and “Child Of Vision.” He also waded upstream through a watery mire of Wurlitzer razzle dazzle on “Lady” (even though there wasn’t a Wurlitzer in sight), and pulled out his acoustic for “Rosie Had Everything Planned” from 1971’s Indelibly Stamped. Yeah, it would have been cool if Hodgson had pulled out a Les Paul and plucked out a blazing version of “Bloody Well Right,” but that’s just not going to happen.

The acoustic guitar would come in handy for what may be perhaps Hodgson’s most beloved song, “Give A little Bit.” Closing the night with everyone on their feet, smart phones thrust high to capture the moment (no one actually uses them for phone calls anymore), Hodgson remarked, “This is the reason I do this.” And with those words and the song that followed, the audience melted into one.

After the show, I told Hodgson I had watched the Coca-Cola spot featuring “Give A little Bit” on YouTube that morning and it had over 6 million hits. The message behind the commercial, which uses footage from hidden security cameras, is overwhelmingly positive. The song quite magically elevates the clip to a higher place.

Hodgson nodded and told me music is a powerful force — “food for the spirit,” he said. I could certainly relate. The people here tonight at the Taste of Newport savored each and every tasty morsel of Roger Hodgson’s bountiful repertoire.

 

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