I’ve always had a soft spot for Supertramp, and in particular Roger Hodgson’s yearning, questioning songs. Although my venue of choice normally has me standing in a dark, sticky-floored Camden venue, I took a punt on a comfy seated nostalgic journey. Roger and band (more of them in a bit) started on the dot of 8 with Supertramp classic ‘Take the Long way Home’, followed by an endearing spiel about how great is was to be back in England, how lucky he is to be blessed with such a career and so forth. As Rog said at one point, with so much awfulness in the world this was a chance to escape it for a couple of hours. I believe he means every word, but we got quite a lot of these homilies through the evening and I had to fight my inner cynic a mite. So to the tunes: The ‘Tramp ones were excellent, played by a very talented band who had all come dressed as Vegas magicians. The solo years stuff was variable, and you could hear the room deflate when the animal rights anthem ‘Death and a Zoo’ was announced, and dragged into its eighth minute. We got an interval after the ‘Logical Song’ (yay!) to buy West End-priced drinks (boo!) and back for ‘Child of Vision’ (yay!). I couldn’t fault the playing, but the atmosphere and presentation had a curious cruise ship vibe at times, and after a couple of hours I was missing Rick Davies’ more world-weary, tart offerings. We left happy enough, but looking at some recent setlists Roger had missed out ‘Sister Moonshine’, ‘Two of Us’ and a closing ‘It’s Raining Again’. West End curfew or just not feeling it I can’t know, but of course I wanted them, not the ropy ‘Along Came Mary’ which was also, annoyingly, piped over the PA as we filed out.
Well-fed people of a certain age. We were in the youngest 10 per cent there (at 44). A few families, including a lady in front of us with her possibly refreshed daughter. All pretty enthusiastic, especially the definitely refreshed couple bundled off stage during the closing ‘Give a Little Bit’.
It made me think..
Acts of a certain age – and let’s face it, there are more and more of them playing your town these days as the CD sales dwindle – walk a fine line. Do you rock out and play what you want, or play it safe, with a greatest hits and no room for showboating?