Roger Hodgson–Live at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

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I’m not sure how often Roger Hodgson tours the U.S., but he couldn’t recall the last time he visited Atlanta.  Someone in the audience suggested over 30 years ago.  In any case, when the show was announced, my concert buddy and I quickly agreed to this show as he was featured on our hypothetical “I want to see (artist name) in concert” list, which keeps getting shorter and shorter.

Roger Hodgson was one of two creative forces in 70’s almost super-group, Supertramp.  His tenor vocals were at the forefront of the band’s sound and biggest hits.

The price was fair.  The date was superlative, that being on a Sunday, though technically a “work night.”  The time of year... well, August heat was potentially a negative. The venue... well, we were willing to try it again after a terrible experience five years earlier seeing Lucinda Williams.  Aside from her self-absorbed crankiness, the chatter of socialites paying no attention to the show distracted throughout.  But it’s another day, another year, and a different audience.

We arrived, in Botanical Garden terms, fashionably late.  As compared with other venues where the crowd tends to arrive sometime during or after the opening act, Garden watchers know to arrive as soon as the venue opens to claim their lawn spots.  This wasn’t to be a visually active concert, so we didn’t feel pressed to arrive early for a closer view.  Overall, it was a good sized crowed and comfortably spaced.

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Experienced Garden watchers also know to bring low rise beach chairs, and tended lawn notwithstanding, the ground was one rainstorm away from becoming a bog.  That rainstorm was something we expected to arrive at any moment, but overall it was either dry or misting lightly.

Perhaps in consideration of the rain threat, the concert began precisely at 8:00, blessedly short of an opening act.

The show began with a fan favorite, “Long Way Home.”  We were curious as to how Hodgson’s high pitched vocals would hold up 30+ years after he could belt these out...  And just fine, it turned out.  Without the piercing edge, one might even say his vocals have acquired a more nuanced delivery, more expressive.  When he did reach for the very high notes, he found them, and if electronic gimmickry sustained it, it didn’t matter a bit.

His band included drummer, bassist, keyboards, and saxophonist/keyboardist/vocalist Aaron MacDonald.  In a concert without a lead guitar presence, MacDonald owned the stage for musical solos, adding a helpful punch to the longer instrumental sections and adding great refrains as songs required.  This isn’t to suggest the remainder of the band wasn’t good; they were.  But as Hodgson’s voice and bright, optimistic keyboards were the draw, MacDonald was the perfect counter for complementing Hodgson.

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I don’t know much about Hodgson, but I very much appreciate artists like himself who don’t present themselves as pompous, impersonal, or worse.  From the start, Hodgson introduced many of the songs, and came across as humble and appreciative, with a clear desire to entertain.

And we were entertained, but I’m not certain that the enjoyment reverberated back to the stage.  Safely ensconced in beach chairs and under ponchos or, at times, umbrellas, there wasn’t much of the standing/dancing one might expect, lest seats get wet.  Or fall in the mud.  Instead, with the music volume fairly muted as concerts go, it was literally an enjoyable evening in the park, listening to some old favorites and others unknown or less familiar.  Oh, and the chatty socialites didn’t show up, so it was a great listening experience (cicadas and jet planes notwithstanding).

Musically, the glimpses of Supertramp’s older, progressive days were the highlight for me.  “Child of Vision,” particularly, stood out for the extended vibe and ably demonstrated Hodgson’s musical arrangements.  While I’ve enjoyed the groups lyrics and vocals, it’s always been their music that was the draw.

Overall, I was very satisfied with the show.  Including the agreeably chatty introductions, the show was over in 1:50.  On other evenings, I might have felt 1-2 more songs would have helped, particularly of their more adventurous musical pieces.  But as we drove away and shortly entered the pouring rain... I’d have to say that the set length was close to perfect.

3 of 5 STARS

 

 

Long Way Home
School
In Jeopardy
Lovers in the Wind
Breakfast in America
London
Sister Moonshine
Soapbox Opera
Logical Song
Death in a Zoo
If Everyone Was Listening
Child of Vision
Even in the Quietest Moments
Don’t Leave Me Now
Dreamer
Fools Overture

Encore:

Give a Little Bit
It’s Raining Again

2 comments :

  1. Reese, you're "very satisfied" but you gave Roger Hodgson's show only three stars out of five? I give this show a solid five stars. I was there and I can honestly say this was the best show of the summer Concerts in the Garden. Roger's voice is flawless and he sounds even better today than on my Supertramp vinyls. Each and every song was performed with a freshness and purpose. What an incredible, tight band Roger has. I have seen many, many artists over the years and this show by far was up there in the best of the best. Apparently many others felt this way, too, from reading the comments from the show on Roger's Guestbook on his website and on his Facebook page - https://www.Facebook.com/RogerHodgson. I can't wait to see Roger again in New Jersey in October. Once is not enough.

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  2. I, too, have seen many concerts over the years, and maybe we look for different things. Perhaps part of that is the venue or the distance I was from the stage, but the volume and mix was a bit off. I don't need to have an ear ringing experience, but the volume was like listening to the radio, and Hodgson's vocals and keyboards were a bit overwhelmed whenever MacDonald played. The venue gets a "0" for accent lighting. And I didn't hear much "new" in the music. I don't want to hear every song as it was.

    Hodgson was excellent at relating to the audience and his voice surprisingly good and warm. The band was tight, yes, and they mix up the songs from night to night, but aside from MacDonald, they filled a role. Whether they had two hours of sleep or not, compared with other bands, they didn't expend incredible amounts of energy, and with some of the instrumental sections, they could have explored things more imaginatively. An electric guitar would have helped add some variety to the sound. And... maybe he's more of a rock hero to you than me. I enjoyed the show and am glad I went.

    If I had a 3.5 Star icon, I'd use that. Thanks for posting :)

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