Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain
Saturday, 18th September 2010
Article by Hector Gomez
Nostalgia. What a great business it is.
Surely founder and frontman Rick Davies knows it, as Supertramp is definitely a band firmly anchored in the past. I donít mean to be negative, as it is one of the bands of my life and appreciate most of their output (that includes their post-Hodgson efforts, ranging from the excellent "Brother Where You Bound" to the rather dismal "Free As A Bird", through their latest efforts, the similarly decent "Some Things Never Change" and "Slow Motion"), but judging from the invariable setlist (only "Asylum" appears to be on rotation) they perform night after night, it seems that their career began with "Crime Of The Century" and ended with "Famous Last Words". The tour apparently celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the release of their first record, and is eloquently called "70-10" but, as some journalist observed, it would be more appropriate to call it "74-82".
So no, nothing from early (shall I say primitive?) albums "Supertramp" or "Indelibly Stamped" (a sadly missed opportunity, if you ask me) to be found on the repertoire, and with only "Cannonball" representing the ďmodernĒ (ďmodernĒ being 1985) era of Supertramp, but with plenty of Hodgson penned hits to satisfy the demands of the numerous and nearly sold-out (about 15,000 bums on their respective seats) audience.
Indeed, thereís been a heated controversy about the band performing their former member and spiritual leaderís songs; well, theyíve been doing that since the "Free As A Bird" tour in 1988, so it ainít nothing new. In any case, the bone of contention here seems to be the inclusion of these hits in the promotional campaign for the tour, giving the misleading impression that Roger Hodgson was on board again. I certainly donít mind them performing Hodgsonís songs, as theyíre an integral part of the bandís legacy, but itís also true that they might be playing one too many. Such weak songs like "Itís Raining Again" (terribly sung by Gabe Dixon) shouldnít be on the setlist (especially after "Rudy"). Why donít they play "Lover Boy" or "Tenth Avenue Breakdown" instead? On the other hand, Jesse Siebenbergís stab at "Give A Little Bit" sounds pretty sweet, and a newly arranged "Dreamer" leaves a good impression.
So, was it any good, you may ask? I might have given you the impression that I didnít enjoy the show, but thatís fortunately far from true. Yes, I know the stage was too simple, and the lighting quite poor; even the screens were (again) criminally underused (with the same old movies), and if you told me youíve never seen nine musicians with less stage presence than this current (final?) incarnation of Supertramp, Iíd believe you. But, in the end, itís music what counts, and in this aspect the band really delivered (you canít go wrong with a classy performer such as John Helliwell, even if he seems to be quieter than he used to be), helped by both the excellent sound and the unquestionable leadership and commanding performance (both on vocals and keyboards) of Rick Davies.
Much as I love Hodgsonís supernatural ability to write incredibly catchy tunes, if I had to choose, Iíd be on the Daviesí side of the fence, as his songs are the ones that have left their mark and Iíll always remember. I mean, "Logical Song" and "Breakfast In America" are wonderful, but songs such as "From Now On" and "Downstream" are the ones that managed to make me cry. Also, if you asked the audience, the (marvelous) piano solo on "Another Manís Woman" and the paroxystic grand finale with "Crime Of The Century" would be the absolute unanimous highlights. There even was room for more obscure material, that being a wonderful "Poor Boy from Crisis? What Crisis?," and a very solid "Gone Hollywood" from "Breakfast In America". It all makes up a pretty decent setlist, doesnít it?
Davies might be a grumpy old man, and this tour a bit too low key for what the band means in the history of rock music (and for their own good) but, even if Supertramp sound a bit tired, theyíve certainly kept a healthy bit of their magic, and they definitely know how to use it.
Video from Vimeo
Bloody Well Right from Supertramp on Vimeo.
You Started Laughing
Put On Your Old Brown Shoes
Ainít Nobody But Me
Breakfast In America
From Now On
Give A Little Bit
Itís Raining Again
Another Manís Woman
Take The Long Way Home
Bloody Well Right
The Logical Song
Crime Of The Century