Roger Hodgson (‘the voice of Supertramp‘ as the tagline on his tour posters reminds you) tends to play one or two shows a year in the UK – normally in May at the Royal Albert Hall. I make it an annual pilgrimage, as I love the music and I love the man.
This year, the spring Royal Albert Hall show was eschewed in favour of a summer appearance at Stone Free Festival at the O2 Arena. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to Stone Free, but determined not to miss out on this years’ Hodgson experience, I looked around for other European options. The most cost effective of these was a festival I’d not heard of called Over Oslo. If ever a festival did what it said on the tin it’s this one. Taking place 377 metres on a hill above the Norwegian capital, Over Oslo is literally that. Roger Hodgson was to headline the festival on 21 June (the longest day), so given the latitude of Oslo, it was likely to be an interesting experience. I jumped on a Ryanair from Stansted with the biggest camera bag I could get away with to check it out.
Well, the site certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ll be surprised if I ever attend a music festival with a view better than this. I fact, I doubt there is a music festival with a view better than this. From up here it was possible to see rain falling all around us but although we did get a couple of sharp showers, the site remained largely dry. This was a relief. Given Ryanair’s insanely tight cabin baggage policy, I didn’t have room for cameras and spare clothes. By the time Roger came out, the skies had cleared and there was a glorious blue dome above. He didn’t perform until ten o’ clock, although there was no sign of the sun dipping below the horizon.
Being a festival show, this was necessarily a truncated version of the full live Hodgson experience, which normally includes an interval and runs in excess of two hours. But anybody concerned that he might leave out some of his most iconic music needn’t have worried.
Hence, in short order we got Take The Long way Home, School, Breakfast In America, The Logical Song, Lord Is It Mine, Child Of Vision and Dreamer – all classic Hodgson tunes.
Two longstanding members of Hodgson’s touring band, Aaron Macdonald and Kevin Adamson have not joined the front man on this tour. Having played with Roger for over ten years, both Macdonald and Adamson decided they needed a break from the annual touring schedule. Replacing musicians of this stature cannot have been easy. To fill Macdonald’s shoes, you need to be able to play harmonica, clarinet, a multitude of saxophones, keys and percussion. You also need to deliver the ‘What’s she got, not a lot!’ line from Breakfast In America in a faux English accent. Taking the role on this tour is Michael Ghegan, and he did an excellent job.
Being a piano player in a band that already contains a virtuoso piano player can’t be easy, but Ray Coburn slipped into the role with ease. His moment to shine came in the long piano solo outro to Child Of Vision – always a highlight of any Roger Hodgson show.
After an all too brief seventy-five minutes, the show had to close. It might have been a shortened set, but it was still so worth the trip. The band finished with It’s Raining Again and Give A Little Bit. At eleven-fifteen pm, the people were dancing on the hillside and the sun was still shining bright on Roger Hodgson.
Roger Hodgson live at Over Oslo Festival: words and photography by Simon Reed. Simon has his own music photography site at: https://www.musicalpictures.co.uk/