- On 02 June 2011
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THE VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST
Supertramp gives it everything they've got
By Mike Devlin, timescolonist.com May 31, 2011
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
Rating: Four stars (out of five)
Back in March, Rick Davies played his 1,000th show with Supertramp since 1970.
One. Thousand. Shows. That's a lot of performances, for which a tremendous amount of inspiration must have been summoned by Davies, night in, night out, for decades on end.
To his credit, a sense of routine didn't befall the singer-keyboardist on Tuesday night, the first of 12 dates in Canada for the group. Though a man of almost no between-song words, Supertramp's leader ran the show with a quiet confidence and exemplary support from a crack seven-piece band.
This gig was a long time coming, to say the least. Supertramp last played Victoria in 1977, during the tour to support Even in the Quietest Moments. Much has happened in the years since, including the departure of Roger Hodgson, who was a key member in the eyes of many.
Not only did Hodgson co-write with Davies the bulk of the band's material, he fronted the biggest of Supertramp's hits: The Logical Song, Breakfast in America, Take the Long Way Home, Give a Little Bit, and It's Raining Again.
His presence is missed, and made worse by the fact that he and Davies can't come to terms on a reunion. That said, times change. Though he was was a key cog in the classic era of Supertramp, he isn't integral to the modern-day version. Sure, it would be nice to have him there. But it isn't essential.
The audience of 6,000 clearly appreciated the effort put forth by Davies and Supertramp, which includes two players (multi-instrumentalist John Helliwell and drummer Bob Siebenberg) who have been there since 1973. The production was slight (points for recreating the cover of Crisis? What Crisis?, with a guy on stage in a lawn chair, under a beach umbrella, reading a copy of the Times Colonist) but fans didn't wait 34 years to trip on the laser light show.
They came for Supertramp.
The most purely musical moments were the deep album cuts favoured by Davies, jam-band journeys that were thrilling to behold if you were a diehard fan. The band locked into a groove on Put On Your Old Brown Shoes, a lesser-known song that was well worth unearthing. With a slight southern touch, Davies — a 66 year-old Brit — managed to sound like southern gent Leon Russell, both in voice and on the piano.
However, the biggest bangs, for the most part, came via Supertramp's hits. Davies rocked hard during Bloody Well Right, even though his voice lacked a little power at the lower register, and turned moody but effective on Rudy. His verses on Goodbye Stranger were solid, as was his epic performance on Crime of the Century.
Hodgson's cuts were a mixed bag. They were handled best by Jesse Siebenberg, whose vocals on Give a Little Bit, School and Breakfast in America were spot on. His run-through of The Logical Song, it should be said, caused a few cringes, as did the consistently flat interpretations by Gabe Dixon, who bungled It's Raining Again, Dreamer, and Take the Long Way Home.
By the show's end, when it was all said and done, fans left knowing the band gave everything they had. Supertramp made sure it was as close to the real thing as possible.
Sometimes two hours of close is perfectly fair enough.