- On 17 June 2011
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Still Supertramp, but not like the old days
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
To some, a Supertramp without the band’s main voice, Roger Hodgson, is akin to the crime of the century; totally illogical.
Yet, the remnants of the British rock group have been performing without its de-facto leader since Hodgson left the group for a solo career in 1983.
It was the Rick Davies-led lineup that visited the MTS Centre last night for a crowd of 5,500 who were either unaware Hodgson wasn’t in the band or didn’t care: they just wanted to hear the classic radio staples from the band’s 1970s heyday, no matter who was on vocals.
Supertramp trotted out most of their old hits and other album favourites during a show that had a bit more energy than when a similar lineup last appeared in the city at the Winnipeg Arena in 2002, but still somehow wasn’t as good as Hodgson’s solo show at the Burton Cummings Theatre in 2006 even though the former frontman only appeared with one other person – a saxophonist – and Supertramp was a nine-person ensemble Wednesday.
Despite the high quality of the band’s material, the show lacked a spark and genuine sense of excitement. Maybe a version of Fool’s Overture mid-set would have added a jolt of electricity to the evening, but unfortunately that song wasn’t part of the set.
Hodgson’s voice is a major part of songs like Breakfast in America, Give a Little Bit, Take the Long Way Home and The Logical Song, but no matter how hard multi-instrumentalist Jesse Siebenberg tried his best to mimic him, it hit a little too close to karaoke for comfort.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind, though, and hooted and hollered for every hit in the band’s impressive catalogue.
The show started off slow with some "deep cuts," including You Started Laughing, Ain’t Nobody But Me and Gone Hollywood, but the energy, and mood picked up when John Helliwell introduced Breakfast in America, as he does at every show, by describing what he had for breakfast Wednesday morning, earning some extra cheers for talking about the return of the NHL.
"Congratulations on the hockey," he said to roars of approval.
Keyboardist Davies, the band’s only remaining original member from 1969, is the leader of the group these days, but he was quiet between songs, letting Helliwell – who has been in the band since 1973 (along with percussionist Bob Siebenberg) – do the talking.
The first half of the two hour show was as bland as some of the band’s extended prog jams, but thankfully picked up considerably in the second half when the group started dishing out the hits: Take the Long Way Home, Rudy, an anemic version of the pop gem It’s Raining Again, Bloody Well Right, The Logical Song and Goodbye Stranger before the encore of School, Dreamer and Crime of the Century.
In the end, Supertramp sans Hodgson wasn’t quite the crime of the century, but something about it didn’t feel bloody well right.