Roger Hodgson took a nearly full house at The Egg’s Hart Theatre on a trip Tuesday night down musical memory lane, while throwing in enough curveballs to escape the tired nostalgia act cliches.
The former Supertramp frontman and songwriter hit on all the old favorites, of course, “Take the Long Way Home,” “Breakfast in America” (from which this U.S. tour takes its title), “The Logical Song” and “Dreamer” chief among them. With a powerhouse four-piece band backing him up, Hodgson proved the years since Supertramp’s 1970s and ’80s heyday have been kind — his boyish tenor can still strafe the stratosphere, and his playing on keyboard, piano and guitar was all superb.
But it was the stuff in between that was the revelation, including tracks from his three underappreciated solo albums and deep cuts from the Supertramp back catalog, all of which made the case for Hodgson’s consistency over the years.
Hodgson took the stage shortly after 8 to the strains of the aforementioned “Take the Long Way Home,” which was anchored by his crisp keyboard playing and longtime bandmate Aaron McDonald’s harmonica and saxophone. He then addressed the audience briefly, gently sniping at the few latecomers finding their seats — “You missed the best song!”
This was a low-key, laid back affair, with seven large potted ferns onstage adding to the atmosphere. Many of the song selections also reflected Hodgson’s easygoing nature, including two of his solo compositions, “In Jeopardy” and “Lovers in the Wind” early in the set. But that’s not to say that the band didn’t rock out, especially later in the set, with the aforementioned crowd favorites and the tongue-in-cheek bounce of “Rosie Had Everything Planned” mid-set.
Highlights included the acoustic guitar-driven “Easy Does It,” performed solo by Hodgson with some help from whistlers in the audience, and “Sister Moonshine,” which immediately followed and eventually devolved into a frenzied clash of percussion in the climax. “Breakfast in America” was dedicated to a woman in the audience celebrating her 80th birthday; the haunting power ballad “Lord is it Mine” received a similar dedication to a few other audience members who also wrote in to Hodgson’s online message board.
Not everything stuck — the ponderous animal rights screed “Death and a Zoo” hinged on pre-recorded animal sounds and eventually climaxed in another, less successful percussion breakdown (although the song was well-received).
But Hodgson was soon back on track with a passel of Supertramp favorites, including “If Everyone Was Listening,” “Child of Vision” and an energetic run-through of “Dreamer” that once again featured MacDonald’s talents prominently, this time in the vocal role originally filled by Supertramp co-founder Rick Davies. Main set closer “Fool’s Overture” followed the standing ovation for “Dreamer,” and this instrumental epic allowed the band one more chance to stretch out as the audience roared its approval.