2008 TOURS, Roger Hodgson, Niagara Falls, December 31

2008 TOURS, Roger Hodgson, Niagara Falls, December 31


Party in Niagara 2008: Roger Hodgson, Kim Mitchell

If I could have anything in the world

We headed down to the park at around 9:00. Kim Mitchell was already on stage, not sure for how long. Justin Hines had already been and gone earlier.

If I remember correctly, we saw Kim do "Paradise Skies" and "A Million Vacations", a song called "Stand" from an album called "Itch" that apparently didn't do well but they liked it anyway. He did a few other songs I didn't know, and I believe he ended with "I Am A Wild Party".

Roger Hodgson from Supertramp was on next. It was just him playing guitar/keyboards and one other guy who did saxophone or whatever other instrument was needed. My brother told me before the concert that I wouldn't even notice that there were no drums or other instruments — and he was mostly right. During songs like "Breakfast in America" and "Dreamer", where I knew there were bits where the drums were supposed to come in, it felt a little empty, but overall, it was pretty cool. There didn't seem to be anything wrong (ie. missing) with the songs I didn't know, and there were even bits (in songs I knew!) that I went "wow, that sounds a lot fuller than it should".

He opened with "Take the Long Way Home" and he also did "Give A Little Bit" and "The Logical Song". I don't know the other songs he did, apparently "It's Raining Again", and I think "Sister Moonshine" and "School" (which he introduced by saying we may have noticed he'd written a few songs about his schooling and how he didn't agree with it), and maybe a few others.

In case I haven't mentioned — which I haven't — this all happened in Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls, Ontario. On the Canadian side, which you know, is fifty degrees below the temperature across the border in Niagara Falls, New York. Needless to say, it was freezing.

When Roger Hodgson came on, he said something about "forgetting [him]self in the dressing room, she's gone to get it for me". I don't know what he was referring to, since I couldn't really see much (that "concert-a-week-tall-guy" problem again), but I'll assume it was like his prosthetic arm or something.

Oh, and Roger Hodgson? He's 58 — a young'un! Something that most everyone I talked to noticed was that he did not stop smiling the whole night. He was just a generally incredibly happy looking man. And he had a cute little hat! (And, we found last night that he bore a strong resemblance to a character in "Sleeping Beauty" for some reason). And, most shocking of all — I turned to my mom when he came on stage and said "he's got hair!" astonishedly.

While I did not end up taking the long way home and getting lost and having to be adopted by Roger Hodgson after he impatiently started a snowball fight with me and impatiently stated that he loved kids and sarcastically asked if I was up for adoption and I unexpectedly said yes, I would hazard a guess that he is rather a nice guy. He was up on stage for a couple of minutes before he started the set, waiting for whatever he left in the dressing room, so he talked to the crowd for a bit. Which, I mean, most people I think wouldn't have come on stage, or would have went off, or something. He laughed a little and said "IIIII've got a heeeeeater!".

"Breakfast in America", great song. "Take a jumbo 'cross the water / Like to see America" is of course referring to the Atlantic Ocean, Supertramp being from Britain and all. Somehow, for a long time, I was able to ignore their British accents and get the impression that the song was about Niagara Falls. After all, for me, "the water" is Niagara Falls. You go across the bridge, and there you are! Pancakes in New York, Eggs in Buffalo, Breakfast in America. So the fact that I was listening to this song in Niagara Falls was slightly awesome in my own personal way.

Another song I realized was appropriate (on this occasion only!) was "Dreamer": "what a day, a year, a life it is". Oh ho ho! I have a feeling there was someone somewhere who was trying to get Roger Hodgson to play there that night just because they knew he'd sing that line and are frantically searching for someone to play next year whose catalogue includes a song that could be possibly construed as referring to the new year.

Quite an enjoyable concert, other than the cold. Roger Hodgson left the stage and then came back to do a second set for the TV broadcast that started at 11:00. After the first two songs in his second set, which were "Take the Long Way Home" and another song he'd already done, my dad and I went back to the hotel. It was just way too cold, especially on the feet, and standing up for concerts just isn't cool on your back (it's cold, but not cool). Plus, I reasoned, he'd be doing the same songs anyway and I've already seen Kim Mitchell twice. 'Course part of me wanted to stay, because whatever reasoning my well-being was making up, it was still a concert and still somewhere I wanted to be.

Roger apparently did all the same songs from what I can tell. I got to watch a bit of the end of his set on TV and then some of Justin Hines. They're tricky, them TV people. They make it look like Roger goes on, then Justin Hines, and then Kim Mitchell, but in actuality, they just played a clip of Justin Hines while they packed up Roger's stuff and set up Kim's stuff. Tricky, tricky!

Kim Mitchell did "Rock 'N Roll Duty", "Patio Lanterns", and "Go For Soda", of course. I don't think he played any of those songs on the first set — which is nice that he switched it up. But like I said, I've seen him twice, and while he's good, the weather was just terrible. During his first set actually, there was a bit of a mini-blizzard, but other than that, the snow mostly held off.

On the TV broadcast you could see him go up to the heater every once in awhile to warm up his hands and he always seemed to be sticking his hands in his pockets in between playing the guitar. As they went to commercial break one time, you could hear him yelling in the background "I can't feel my fingers!" which was highly amusing.

Hopefully next year they have some more good people playing in Niagara. Next year should be a good one, if the weather's going in an alternating pattern of terrible and tolerable. I don't know if this year or two (three now, technically?) years ago with Foreigner was worse. Cold or rain, cold or rain? Oh, Canada.

Source: Jenny, coolcherrycream.com




The show's headliner, Roger Hodgson, the former front man for Supertramp, warmed up the crowd with that band's hits from the 1970s and 1980s. He drew on hits like "Dreamer," "It's Raining Again" and "Take the Long Way Home" to win over appreciative fans.

People danced and sang along with both Mitchell and Hodgson as they romped their way through songs they made popular decades ago.

"A lot of us know his songs word for word," said Bonnie Verge, a front-row Supertramp fan.

"It's great here. This is a very nice part of the world here," Hodgson told the Niagara crowd. But the cold caused some problems for the California resident in one song that required him to whistle.

"My lips are stuck together. I can't whistle," said Hodgson, wearing a white knit sweater, scarf, overcoat and what appeared to be a beige sheepskin-type hat.

He said he liked playing in Canada because its fans were among the first to discover Supertramp in the 1970s and they helped propel the band's success.

"I love Canadians. I really do."

Later, he didn't have much love for the effect Canada's winter had on his electronic keyboard, which temporarily froze up.

"My keyboard's on strike. It's not working," he joked.

Keeping warm was the biggest challenge for audience members. Most were dressed for it. Tuques and ski jackets were the order of the day, even though New Year's Eve is often associated with tuxedoes and evening gowns.

Instead of that kind of finery, Aaron Scott from Niagara Falls wore construction- worker coveralls, heavy winter coat and boots. He'd rather sacrifice fashion than miss the free concert.

"I'd rather come down here and see the bands. I love Kim Mitchell and Supertramp," said Scott, whose concession to the revelry was a yellow, oversized novelty cowboy hat made of foam.

"True Canadian. It's all good," he said.

Brad McGraw, another Niagara Falls man showed his Canadian spirit by waving a flag from the end of a hockey stick.

"I said you know what? There's not going to be one flag down there. I'm making sure they see a Canadian flag," McGraw said.

Throughout the night, emcees provided updates on the world junior hockey game Canada won 7-4 over the United States in Ottawa.

Thermoses and travel coffee mugs were popular among audience members.

Michael Bartlett and Cathy Byrnes were carrying a Thermos of Tim Hortons coffee fortified with some special non-dairy creamer. They arrived early for a front-row seat because they had "a blast" last year.

"It's colder, but there's no wind. We're better prepared for it this year," Bartlett said.

Organizers estimated 20,000 people attended some part of the New Year's Eve festivities.

"Obviously, because of the temperature the crowd came a little later. Everyone who came had a good time," said Joel Noden, an executive director with the Niagara Parks Commission.

The audience filled up about half of the park area between Murray Street and the stage, erected just south of the parks police building. In some years, the crowd spilled out onto Murray Street or the Niagara Parkway.

It was "understandable" there were fewer people this year, Noden said.

"I didn't see as many families as we're used to," he said, adding it would have been uncomfortable for kids to stay outside in the cold too long.

"I thought it was good. Everyone seemed to sing along. I think we're on the right track with those 'retro' bands," Noden said. Acts like Hodgson and Mitchell or previous years' entertainers Loverboy, Foreigner and Styx singer Dennis DeYoung appeal to people in their 40s who tend to bring their kids to the family-oriented show.

Kendra Hussey came from Keswick for the show because it's family entertainment.

"In involves the kids, too. It's a good family outing," Hussey said.

Her daughter Teri joked she was too young to know any Supertramp or Kim Mitchell tunes.

"I was forced into this," she said with a laugh.

Canadian singer Justin Hines was the first performer to take to the stage. It was the second time he performed on New Year's Eve. Two years ago, he signed his first recording contract the day he played Niagara Falls.

After the show he said he didn't notice the bitter cold because of the massive heaters onstage and "the energy of the crowd."

But Hodgson said the cold was the hardest part of the performance for him. Between songs, he rubbed his hands together or held them up to one of the propane-fueled heaters onstage.

"It didn't rain or snow on me," Hodgson said backstage as he boarded a bus to take him to his hotel. "The crowd were great. You Canadians are troopers. You're used to it," Hodgson said.

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