2010 TOUR - SUPERTRAMP, London Oct. 6

2010 TOUR - SUPERTRAMP, London Oct. 6

Supertramp, O2 Arena, review
Without the agile voice of Roger Hodgson, the newly rebuilt Supertramp just isn't the real deal. Rating: * *
By Adam Sweeting
Published: 4:04PM BST 07 Oct 2010


The legendary US pop-group "Supertramp" with founder and keyboarder Rick Davies (L) and saxophonist John Helliwell (R) Photo: EPA. Photographer GINDL BARBARA

In their 40-year history, Supertramp have been to prog and back, and weathered a telephone book of personnel changes. Their early-Seventies art-rock leanings were gradually overshadowed by a glittering streak of hit singles, the best-known ones featuring the agile falsetto voice, and songwriting skills, of Roger Hodgson. However, Hodgson hasn’t been part of the set-up since 1983, so for many fans this newly rebuilt Supertramp will never quite be the real deal.

Still, it does feature saxophonist John Helliwell, vocalist/pianist Rick Davies and drummer Bob Siebenberg, all key members from the band’s golden age, and though there was supposedly an agreement between Hodgson and Davies that the revived Supertramp wouldn’t play any of Hodgson’s songs, they do anyway.

“I expect Rick to honour the agreement he and I made that the band would not play my songs,” Hodgson growled earlier this year, as he set up a string of his own solo dates. You can see why Davies and co are doing it — Hodgson’s songs are the most recognisable and popular ones — and it’s a syndrome which has affected countless bands from ELO to the Searchers, but it casts a shadow over the enterprise.

Part of the price they pay is the blurred sense of identity that hovers over the performance. Rick Davies appears to be the dominant character, featuring prominently on piano and lead vocals, but it’s Helliwell who does the introductions and little chats to the audience.

Also, to compensate for the absence of Hodgson’s distinctive voice, the combo have compromised by using a pair of replacements. So, you get Gabe Dixon singing a surprisingly brief Dreamer, and Jesse Siebenberg (son of drummer Bob) tackling the breezy folk-pop of Give A Little Bit. It starts to feel like an outlandishly huge karaoke night.

Still, the audience wanted the hits, and screamed and jumped up and down for the 'Tramp classics Breakfast In America, The Logical Song and Bloody Well Right. In between, the band exhibited a wearisome enthusiasm for instrumental passages which over-compensated in length for what they lacked in melodic or harmonic interest. Davies and Helliwell are skilful musicians with detectable jazz leanings in their playing, but they were strait-jacketed by these dull slabs of pseudo-Genesis and ersatz Moody Blues. Not even the muscular heavy lifting of lead guitarist Carl Verheyen could break free.

For Supertramp’s superfans, a more satisyfing option may be to splash out on the new deluxe, expanded reissue of their 1979 bestseller, Breakfast In America. 

Supertramp still entertain 40 years on.
Tim Cole, Deputy Editor
The docklands24
Thursday, 7 October, 2010  16:10 PM

Rock superstars Supertramp were in top form at the O2 last night.

GOING to a gig by a big name band who haven’t had a hit in 25 years is always a risk.

WIll they present a stack of songs from a new album that doesn’t carry the weight as they bid to sell their latest fan fodder.

Or alternatively will they recognise that their audience have come along to hear the songs that shipped shedloads of vinyl in their heyday.

Supertramp came to the O2 Arena last night and kept to the latter, remaining true to the title of their tour: 70-10 The Greatest Hits.

It was an exuberant celebration of their 70s stardom with every single they released plus half a dozen album tracks from the quartet of big sellers, Crime Of The Century, Crisis, What Crisis, Even In The Quietest Moments and Breakfast In America.

Only three of that ‘elite’ line-up remain. Richard Davies, one of the band’s founding duo, singer, songwriter and keyboard player, is the lynchpin.

Drummer Bob Siebenburg, usually billed on albums as Bob C Benburg is still there.

And John Anthony Helliwell, saxophonist and woodwind player, remains centre stage as the master of ceremonies to entertain and conduct the crowd.

You would think that without Rodger Hodgson, the band’s other singer songwriter who departed in the mid 1980s, they would struggle to recreate the classic sound.

He, after all, wrote The Logical Song, Dreamer, Give A Little Bit and Breakfast In America to name but four, and his high pitched voice was key.

But Davies and co have found the answer - or rather the answers to that problem.

When Siebenburg came over from the US in the early 70s to seek a rock and roll fortune he arrived with school classmate Scott Gorham, who was promptly recruited by Thin Lizzy.

Siebenburg married Gorham’s sister and together had a son who could be the future of Supertramp.

Jesse Siebenburg plays guitar, keyboards and sings like Hodgson.

The audience first jumped to their feet as he played Give A Little Bit - a remarkable sign of approval - and they were similarly in raptures as he performed the first encore, School.

The other half of the Hodgson replacement team is Gabe Dixon, a man with his own eponymous band and a pork pie hat.

He was received in similarly joyous fashion singing It’s Raining Again and Dreamer, among others, and playing keyboards.

But Davies is at the heart of the band and many of the highlights were his.

A stunning piano solo in Another Man’s Woman, A wonderful version of Bloody Well Right. Show closer Goodbye Stranger. And to finish it all, as ever, the final encore Crime Of The Century.


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