Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2019
US rock legend Roger Hodgson wasted no time in getting the party started, strolling out to a sustained synth note as crisp and clean as the white suit he donned while some audience members where still finding their seats.
Bouncing, thick piano chords set the beat while a familiar harmonica line introduced Supertramp’s Take The Long Way Home, a fitting intro given the singer-songwriter was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album it’s taken from, Breakfast In America.
With small palm trees spaced around the back of the stage and lights between band members, the production resembled the set of a late night talk show, a scene that was elevated with organ from Ray Coburn and saxophone from Michael Ghegan.
Requesting the house lights turned on, Hodgson stepped away from the mic and to the front of the stage to chat with frontrow punters like he was getting reacquainted with old friends. “Who was here last time?” he asked, and a sea of hands quickly rose in response.
After dedicating the evening to birthday boy Chris Wilkinson in the nosebleed section, the celebrations continued, Hodgson taking punters back to School through a wall of washed-out guitar tones.
Single Breakfast In America (“A song that I wrote when I was 19.. three years ago.”) was an early hit that had the audience in ecstasy thanks to a riveting saxophone solo.
“I couldn’t write a song like that today if I tried,” Hodgson said. “I mean, ‘Not much of a girlfriend’ – what was I thinking?”
Hodgson’s voice was the most captivating instrument on stage, adding multiply layers to songs like folk rock number Easy Does It and piano ballad Lord Is It Mine.
Sister Moonshine showcased his eclectic songwriting style with Coburn forced to offer up a soaring guitar solo and harmonica parts from his keyboard to keep up with its demanding instrumentation.
Nothing compared to classics The Logical Song, Dreamer, Fool’s Overture, Give A Little Bit and It’s Raining Again, but relatively new single Death And A Zoo (2000) came close. It was a set highlight driven by a symphony of obscure sound effects that complimented the song’s powerful lyrics around animal welfare.
By set’s end, Roger Hodgson and co had well and truly delivered on their promise to take fans on an emotionally-charged journey.