Last night, Bill and I continued our summer of concerts and saw Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp, at the Liederhalle in downtown Stuttgart. This was our third concert this year, having seen The Rolling Stones in June and Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt in Dublin in July. I don’t usually go to a lot of concerts because I don’t like crowds, but I am definitely a music lover and I did grow up in the 70s and 80s. I guess it’s just a byproduct of having seen so many (for me) shows this summer, but I actually kept forgetting about this concert. I created a Facebook alert to remind me to go! I’m glad I did. Roger Hodgson is a fine entertainer!
Supertramp was a huge part of my childhood and I love their music. Roger Hodgson left Supertramp in 1983, but his songs were the band’s biggest hits. Former bandmate, Rick Davies, still performs under the name Supertramp and did contribute a few hits, but Hodgson was really the mastermind of that band when it was especially popular. I have read from a couple of accounts that Davies and Hodgson aren’t on the best of terms now and Davies has had some health challenges. It’s too bad, because it would have been awesome to hear Davies’ “Goodbye Stranger” and “Bloody Well Right”. But I guess these things happen.
I bought tickets for the show kind of on a whim during the spring. It was right after I’d dropped a load of money on Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and Paul Simon. I figured, “what the hell” and got tickets for Hodgson’s show, too. I also bought tickets for a Celtic music festival on Halloween. This year is really turning out to be my year to hear live music. My Elton John tickets aren’t here yet; I got special ones that are due to arrive two weeks before the event next May. Hopefully, we’ll still be living in the Stuttgart area.
Stuttgart was getting some rain last night. It’s good that Hodgson’s show was indoors in the wonderfully intimate Liederhalle, where I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing Lyle Lovett and Diana Krall. We had an annoying time getting to the venue due to the weather, rush hour traffic, and at least one accident on the road, but we arrived with time for a pre-dinner glass of wine and a butter pretzel. Then we took our seats in the balcony. I usually spring for seats closer in, but I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t do that for Hodgson’s show.
The scene before the show... Germans seem to love Supertramp! There were lots of middle aged to older folks there, as well as a couple of kids. It was definitely a different vibe than the Stones show, though.
Dinner. I had Sekt for dessert.
My view. I bought tickets after they'd been on sale for awhile, so we ended up with cheaper seats. I was actually kind of glad, though, because the permanent seats the the Liederhalle are very comfortable and it was easier for me to see. When I sit on the floor, I'm usually surrounded by tall folks. It's not easy being 5'2" at a concert in Germany, land of the tall.
Roger Hodgson greets the crowd.
This was my first time seeing Mr. Hodgson playing live. I was quite impressed by how engaging he was with the crowd. When a guy came in after the first song, he quipped “You’re late. You missed the best song!” He had just played “Take the Long Way Home”, which is one of Supertramp’s best loved hits (and a personal favorite of mine).
When a young girl aimed a camera at the stage, Hodgson said, “You want to take a picture? It’s okay!”
I watched Hodgson shake hands with fans and even pass out a couple of souvenirs. One guy got sheet music. Another got a coffee mug. Hodgson truly seemed to be enjoying playing for us as much as we enjoyed hearing him and his stellar band play. The Liederhalle is a very intimate venue with great acoustics. I still remember the first concert I attended there; Lyle Lovett played there in 2009. We were just yards away from Lovett for that show. Same with Diana Krall. It’s such a pleasure to be able to watch a concert without having to look at giant screens.
The band launches into Hodgson's best known songs, many of which were Supertramp hits, but a few that were solo efforts. I knew most of the songs, but there were a few that were new to me.
I must give a shout out to Hodgson's superb sax player for this show, Michael Ghegan of New Jersey. I watched this man play at least two different saxophones, a harmonica, tin whistle, melodica, keyboards, and he also sings! And when he played sax, he reminded me a lot of Branford Marsalis, when he was playing with Sting back in the 1980s. I read that Ghegan isn't even Hodgson's usual sax player. He joined the band this summer to give regular sax player, Canadian Aaron MacDonald, a break from touring. Ghegan is extraordinary. I predict we'll be hearing a lot more from him.
As you can see, the lighting was a big deal for this show... At one point, there were strobe lights and I wondered if there were any epileptics in the house...
Hodgson played several guitars in addition to keyboards. Keyboards and sax are very much a part of his music. There was only one other guitar player, David J. Carpenter, who played bass... and bore a striking resemblance to Hodgson. When he first came out on stage, I actually thought it was Hodgson, who later quipped that Carpenter isn't his son.
I also really enjoyed the efforts of keyboard player Ray Coburn, who, along with Michael Ghegan, is new to the show. And drummer, Bryan Head, was also putting on a masterful show.
During the concert, Hodgson mentioned that he likes playing in Germany (and indeed, is playing a lot of dates in Germany for this tour) because German audiences are clear about their likes and dislikes. They are also respectful. Having now been to several concerts in Germany, I have to agree. Germans listen to the music and enjoy it without annoying other people, at least for the most part. And… having myself sung at Tommi’s Bistro a couple of times, I also agree that they tend to be a wonderful and appreciative, or at least respectful, audience. I could tell the locals were loving Roger… and he was loving them back. It was very rewarding to experience the love, and hear some of Hodgson’s stories about how he came to write some of his best loved hits.
A number of old Supertramp songs especially remind me of when I was in high school. I had bought The Autobiography of Supertramp, which in retrospect, was a rather poorly edited greatest hits album put out by A&M records in honor of their 25th anniversary back in 1986. A bunch of A&M artists, including Supertramp and The Carpenters, made greatest hits compilations. I was a teenager, so I was looking for the most bang for my buck and this compilation had most of their hits, as well as some songs I didn’t know. I remember listening to it incessantly, even though a few of their best songs were unforgivably edited. One song in particular, “Hide In Your Shell”, really resonated with me. Hodgson played that one last night, remarking that a number of fans had told him that it meant a lot to them.
Recorded from another show... A good example of a song Hodgson wrote for himself that touches others.
Roger Hodgson says goodnight. I believe you could pay extra to hear the sound check and attend a meet and greet with him, but I knew that it would be a late evening for Bill, who is working today. However, I get the sense that meeting Roger would be rewarding. He really seems to love his work.
I did film one song… “Give a Little Bit”, which was the first encore. I didn’t film the second one, “It’s Raining Again”, although when I was ten years old, that song was my absolute favorite for weeks. I bought a 45 of it and then, years later, I bought the LP Famous Last Words. Nowadays, I have it on MP3. I could see the crowd loves that song as much as I do.
We left the show with smiles on our faces, especially since getting into and out of the concert hall was a snap compared to getting into and out of the Porsche and Mercedes Arenas. I really need to make a point of seeing more shows in this venue.
Yes, we heard this song last night. Apparently, this was written when Hodgson was 19 years old and had just gotten a pump organ. He says it still makes him smile to sing this song so many years later.
Anyway… it was a really great show and left me with yet another awesome memory of our time in Stuttgart, a city where there’s delicious food, excellent entertainment, and good people. If you like Roger Hodgson’s music, I highly recommend seeing him perform live. He puts on an excellent concert and has an amazing band backing him. It’s well worth the price of admission.