Review: Hodgson show a snapshot of his popular career

11:14 PM, Jun 26, 2013

Roger Hodgson (Matt Roberts//Getty Images)/


Written By Leah Stacy

The rain had died down outside, but audiences inside Eastman Theatre Wednesday night were chanting, “It’s Raining Again.”

Roger Hodgson was headlining the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, singing his famous song to a nearly full Kodak Hall. He could have played this show 10 years ago — not to say it’s irrelevant, but more to say that Hodgson is still known and loved for the same songs, and his personable stage presence presumably hasn’t changed since, well, 1969.

In a pinstriped white shirt, flowered vest and slacks, the U.K. native moved from keys to guitar and grand piano while his musicians rotated accordingly. At the piano, Hodgson’s slouchy white socks and tennis shoes spoke to his laid-back, fun-loving nature, apparent when he teased a few latecomers as they entered the back of the hall.

The 63-year-old and his band invited the audience to sing, snap, sway and whistle along to “The Logical Song,” “Dreamer” and the always-catchy “Breakfast in America” (repopularized in 2005 by the Ontario County-gone-big pop group Gym Class Heroes’ song, “Cupid’s Chokehold.”)

This is the kind of band you want to have a beer with, because you feel like you already know them. Though Hodgson is best known from his days as cofounder and primary songwriter in the band Supertramp (founded in 1969 with Rick Davies), he’s been touring solo since 1984.

Along the outskirts of the stage and among the instruments were large tropical trees and flowers. Surprisingly, the shaggy-haired Hodgson didn’t seem out of place, and the props provided a visual aid for his 13-year-old song, “Death and a Zoo,” from an album he only released in France. The audience seemed a bit confused as the song built into animalistic sounds and heavy guitar riffs, but they appeared to enjoy it, nonetheless.

The crowd Wednesday was largely middle-aged or older, save for a few elementary-aged children in the front rows. “There’s some young ones here,” said Hodgson skeptically. “Do you know who I am?”

Hodgson has often said that he has many unrecorded songs, and he played one for the audience called “The Awakening,” which deals with the importance of forgiving yourself. The acoustic guitar and soft tenor sax made for an almost Celtic feel that suggests a departure from the alternative, electric rock Hodgson is known for.

The show ended with “Give a Little Bit,” perhaps Hodgson’s most popular song. The crowd moved from their seats to the front of the auditorium to dance and clap along with the band.

In all, it was, as Hodgson puts it, a 100-minute “journey through my life, in snapshots.” One can only assume those snapshots are focused and beautiful, just like a night of music with Hodgson.