Give A Little Bit is one of Supertramp’s hits that was penned by the band’s co-founder Roger Hodgson, has become an ear-worm over the years, especially so after Roger ‘donated’ the song to aid fund-raising efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As a matter of fact, most of the big hits that catapulted Supertramp to mega stardom in the late seventies and early eighties were written by Roger.
You all know by now how much I value Roger Hodgson not only as a gifted musician, but also as a person. I hardly ever mention his name without also referring to our little (but steadfastly growing!) circle of friends, who mostly met through – and are held together by – Kathy’s Roger Hodgson fan-site, and who are all similarly affected by Roger’s music and sincerity.
When we met up for Roger’s Tollwood concert in Munich last July, we all were certain to meet again in Nuremberg’s Meistersingerhalle in March 2011, where most of us had met up for the first time in March 2009. Although I had already health troubles at the time, it never crossed my mind that I could be too ill to travel, but as we all know that’s precisely what happened. Still, until late January I hadn’t given up hope altogether that I might feel better by March; when it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen, I was obviously deeply disappointed.
Then, just one week before the gig, I received a short but sweet email from Linda Tyler, Roger’s manager, proposing to let me join the gang virtually using Skype if there was an internet connection available at the hall. I couldn’t believe what I was reading!
A couple of days before the concert my friend Gregor and I set up our Skype connection and for the next 48 hours I was almost breathless in anticipation! Events on the 15th March kicked off with a brief telephone chat with my friends (thank you Mick!), while they were having lunch at Sausalito’s. Awesome!
Big Hug for Miriam
Here is a special hug for our friend Miriam, who was supposed to be there with the others in Nuremberg but sadly learned – almost in the last minute – that she was not able to, also for health reasons. Olaf tried setting her up with a Skype connection too, but for some reason it didn’t work out as well as mine, which must have been so disappointing for her. Dear Miriam, as I said: Let’s make a big wish for the next time, so that we’ll both be there – and share a hug in person!!
Gregor – to whom I’ll be indebted forever! – set up his laptop in the hall, and you can believe me when I say that I felt the atmosphere there, it was kind of crackling! Excitement increased when he placed me on the edge of the stage, and Roger came over to greet me.
A brief chat with Roger before the soundcheck
After that, Roger carried me over and set me up on his keyboard! There I was, sitting face to face with the man… surreal is the only word that’s halfway fitting! Linda had asked whether I wanted Roger to sing a particular song for me, and I’d decided on The More I Look. Here I must clarify that there are many other songs that I love, but this one sort of “speaks to me” and often comes into my mind when I’m out and about on my own with the camera. And he would sing most of the others during the concert anyway. So Roger sat in front of me, singing The More I Look for me – did I mention surreal?
Sabine "sitting" on Roger's keyboard
There’s one little snag in attending a concert via Skype; I had two options, either enjoy an excellent view at the expense of sound, or get better quality sound but from far away…I decided on being close to the action, but unfortunately the laptop’s mic was unable to pick up anything Roger said during the concert, and the music was barely recognizable. Sitting right on top of a bank of loudspeakers was of course not helping things. But I could live with it – especially in view of what was still to come!
Sabine & Miriam "sitting" on stage (photo by Gregor)
A technical problem with an amplifier gave Roger a hard time during this particular concert – which must have been the first in his long career that saw Roger not playing a guitar! Another glitch forced him to abandon Breakfast In America halfway through and restart after a brief interruption. I couldn’t help feeling that somehow I was responsible, that I was jinxing it with my presence… Yet despite the obstacles Roger had to struggle with, the crowd was wonderful (applause was the only sound that came over almost perfectly!!).
Roger & Aaron during the show
Hardcore fans know that the first few chords of Dreamer are the starting shot for the audience to abandon their seats and crowd in on the stage… and it was no different last Tuesday. But would you believe it: that’s precisely when Skype decided to hang up on me and deprive me of not one but two encores, which apparently included the only song he played on the guitar that night (Two Of Us, I believe).
Of course I didn’t give up hoping that my Skype connection to the hall would be restored after the show, but it was a looong wait. I even nodded off a couple of times and was seriously scared I’d miss the call in the end! Thankfully I succeeded to stay awake – I would have been devastated had I missed what was still to come…
Together with the others, I waited backstage for Roger to arrive after the gig. Every now and then one of my friends would come to me for a chat; it was a very peculiar feeling, I was really there… so strange! Finally Roger and Linda entered the room and the usual photo session ensued, interspersed with chats and hugs and autographs. “Usual” is, perhaps, not quite the right word for this photo-shoot in particular – have a look:
Roger, Sabine & the gang! (Photo by Olaf)
Gregor carrying Sabine around (Photo by Olaf)
Mick ensuring that Sabine has a good view on things! (Photo by Olaf)
The gang had arranged for another “Garden Gate Gang” t-shirt to be printed for me, which they all signed on the back, while Roger wrote on its front, “For beautiful Sabine… Roger Hodgson” – and he also signed the large banner (beautifully made by Claudia!), which they’d decided to send me… I’m really lost for words!
Roger signing my t-shirt (Photo by Christine)
Roger signing the Garden Gate Gang banner for me (Photo by Christine)
Roger showing me the t-shirt (Photo by Anina)
Some time after 11.30pm the meet & greet came to an end. However, there was yet another surprise lying in wait, as Linda told me that she’d “take me” to Roger’s dressing room because he wanted to speak with me somewhere quieter, away from the large crowd of people. And so my wonderful day in Nuremberg finished with a “private audience” with Roger Hodgson… Awesome… Surreal!
Just saying thank you isn’t enough, but what else can I possibly say? I’m sure that everybody will agree that there aren’t many “stars” in the music business who would go to such great lengths for a fan who can’t attend their gig.
A huge, heartfelt thank-you to Roger Hodgson and Linda Tyler, and to all my Garden Gate Gang friends, for making the 15th March 2011 one of the best days of my life!
Thanks are also in order for the photos of the great night. A few of the pics in this post are snapshots that I took through Skype, but the others (the better ones!) are from Gregor, Olaf, Christine and Anina. I hope I marked all the photographers correctly!
These past weeks have been very stormy ones in every way. From the literal (= meteorological) point of view, this month has been “the fifth wettest October since 1947″, while last Monday, which saw the country coming to a standstill due to widespread flooding, “was the wettest day in seven decades”! (Source: Times of Malta)
If I were fit enough I think I’d go out cloud-hunting every single day. As it is, though, I’m trapped in a very confined space. Even just spending a few minutes at a time in the garden with my camera has become a taxing task. That’s probably the reason why my mind is constantly filling up with words waiting to be written down. At times my head is spinning with thoughts about this and that – just as it used to before I became so enthralled by photography that it didn’t leave much space for writing.
Cloud-hunting in my garden yesterday!
Right now, I’m full to the brim with contempt for a couple of people, who were claiming to be helping me when in reality their aim turned out to be quite the opposite. I have always had a rather trusting nature (well, hubby calls it plain stupid!), so it was sheer luck that in the last moment I decided to double-check the information I’d been given. I’m still reeling with shock. Just what is it that makes such people tick? I don’t know what they could have possibly gained had I walked into their trap. I really find it a little hard to believe they would have just high-fived each other in glee. Well, whatever their reasons, I do hope that one day they’ll get all caught up in those devious intrigues they’re spinning and get to taste their own medicine. Remember, what goes round, comes round… .
Health-wise I’m still on a downhill path, the last couple of days having been worse than usual in terms of pain. I’m almost ecstatic that I have received an earlier appointment for the CT scan though. Yes, thankfully the true angels in my life outnumber the bad guys! Here’s hoping to get some answers on the 6th November!
Roger Hodgson’s CLASSICS LIVE
And now for the soothing sounds that came just when I so badly needed them. Part One of Roger Hodgson’s Classics Live is finally available for download from his website. Check out this sampler to hear what US$ 9.99 get you:
Quality is superb, and if you have attended Roger’s shows in the past, listening to the recordings will instantly transport you back to the concert! I have to be honest: It would have been nice to have some of Roger’s recent works on this album. But apparently Part Two is in the making, so there’s still hope!
I don’t know how often I wrote this blog post in my mind – and how often I logged into my WordPress dashboard to actually get down to business, only to close the window again a few minutes later. It’s really all too overwhelming, but I also keep fearing that by writing it all down it becomes all too real.
A few weeks ago I learnt that I was going to lose my job over my illness. For someone who defines herself through her work as I have done, this is the worst she can be told (well, almost the worst, as I’ll explain further on). Consequently, my first reaction was a feeling of total devastation. But knowing that it was work that obviously had brought about my condition in the first place, I decided it was better for me thinking of it as a door closing so another could open.
Okay, whatever, the chapter is practically closed, so I’ll let it rest. Better concentrate on the future…
But… what future? My illness, which still has not been identified, is wreaking havoc with my body. I’m in constant pain; often it is so bad that it leaves me completely incapacitated. (Incidentally, this excruciating pain served as inspiration for the photos in this post - in case you were wondering!) This past week I more or less spent 24/7 lying down. I’ve continued to lose weight, which has now dropped below 50 kg. I do keep forcing myself to eat something every now and then, but in general it only takes the thought of food to make me feel as if I’d just eaten a full four-course meal!
The last straw – or let’s say the one before the last – came with the latest blood test results that I was told about last Wednesday. Apparently two tumor markers are “a little high”. That fact alone does not constitute a diagnose though, which is why I need to have further tests to figure out what’s wrong. I’m waiting to get appointments for MRI of the head and CT scan of the chest (additionally to that bone scan thingy I mentioned a few weeks ago). A couple of years ago I was convinced that the healthcare system in this country really was an excellent one. But then, my knowledge was purely theoretical – now I know better. If you can’t afford private health insurance, your cards are very bad indeed! Maybe this is the way they are trying to ensure the survival of the fittest? Sorry for this pathetic attempt at sarcasm – it’s just that I’ve reached the end of my patience after being ill for half a year, without hope for getting any better any time soon…
I don’t know what I would do without the love I receive from family and friends… that’s really the only thing that still keeping me going. I’m not very good at keeping in touch right now, but I hope that one day I’ll be well enough again to properly show my gratitude for your efforts to brighten my days!
A very sad and disturbing (and possibly even the last) chapter in the history of a great group called Supertramp, is currently stirring up lots of emotions among fans. Many would love to see Supertramp come together one more time in their original line-up, because they experienced the great chemistry that existed between Rick’s and Roger’s respective music. But Rick Davies seems adamant to disappoint the fans: Although Roger Hodgson‘s own world tour was already planned out when Supertramp announced their 2010 tour, he offered to join the group at least for some of the concerts. Rick’s management bluntly refused.
Practically on the height of the group’s fame, co-founder Roger Hodgson had left Supertramp in 1983, leaving Rick to carry on with the successful name and taking nothing but his own songs with him – which Rick promised never to perform without Roger. He broke that promise on a few occasions, when it became clear that it was Roger’s songs which the fans wanted to hear. But this year Rick is taking his breach of the agreement to new heights: Supertramp is doing a “greatest hits” tour (titled “70-10″) on the occasion of their 40th anniversary, without including Roger in the line-up but not shying away from openly using Roger’s pictures and songs to advertise their gigs – and performing them, too. Well, let’s face it, if Supertramp were to ignore those songs there wouldn’t be that many “greatest hits” left, as the set list of their Freiburg gig illustrates poignantly (Roger’s songs marked by me):
To me it (and not only to me!) it seems very much like Rick feels the need to cash in on Roger’s fabulous world-wide success in recent years. Taking a cue from a review of Supertramp’s Freiburg concert, he’s not exactly succeeding though…
Partial translation of “Supertramp in Freiburg gar nicht super in Form”, Suedkurier 08 Sep 2010:
Supertramp in Freiburg not at all in super form
…A band such as Supertramp in the “Brauereihof” augured for an entertaining evening with rock classics and factory charm. However, the performance of Supertramp turned out rather unspectacular, cold, and only reached the attribute “high-end” with the finale with the top hits “School”, “Dreamer” and of course “Crime Of The Century”. Before that, the rather unexcitingly staged hitparade only occasionally managed to spark enthusiasm with the greying fans.
Among the mature fans, who were only fed occasional bits of earworms, impatience grew as they had hoped for a hit-fireworks, but were mainly provided with B-side music. A really good atmosphere never materialised, and that can’t be due to excellently mixed sound at the Brauereihof, but rather due to the lack of soul of the old band’s performance at the end of a long tour.
The band of nine “Supertramp” came to the Brauereihof of Freiburg at the end of its “70 – 10″ tour and inquired first, whether the beer was tasty. But mainly Supertramp wanted to show in Freiburg, that there really was a reason for the band to celebrate its 40-year anniversary. Of course that was a bit of a cheat, as those adept in the scene say, after all the actual great years of the band only spanned the years 1974 till 1983. After that there were mainly many breaks, split-ups and a lot of civil disputes. Band founder Rick Davies, saxophonist John Helliwell and drummer Bob Siegenberg were the only original members of the successful band of the seventies that performed in Freiburg, a fact that was unmistakable. The band is especially lacking singer and guitarist Roger Hodgson, whose treble voice characterizes the breezy hits of the band such as “Give A Little Bit” or “It´s Raining Again”.
In Freiburg, Supertramp presented itself over long periods as a cumbersome rock-dinosaur that had little modern or new material to offer. There were only very small doses of muscial creativity and joy of playing. Strictly speaking, with ticket prices of up to 90 Euro, one would have been served cheaper, and maybe also better, with a “Best Of” record or a DVD from the old days of the band.?
“The irony is these songs of mine that Rick is now playing and using to advertise this tour are the same ones that Rick didn’t even want on Supertramp albums all those years ago. Suddenly when it’s time to sell tickets for his shows, Rick seems very fond of my songs.”
But he also said,
“Finally, I want to say that I really don’t like coming forward like this, but I feel people have a right to know the truth. And the reality is that Rick Davies can own a trademark, but he cannot own the truth.”
Sadly for the fans, with the rift between Rick and Roger having become deeper than before, a true Supertramp reunion is now probably further away from reality than ever. In the meantime, Roger continues to delight his (as well as Supertramp’s) fans around the world. If for you those songs that I marked on the set list above, are Supertramp’s greatest hits, then chances are that you can enjoy them live somewhere on the globe in the near future – and they’ll sound just as they’re supposed to! Check out the Tour page on Roger Hodgson’s website, or add his official Facebook page to your favourites, to make sure you’ll be one of the first to know when he’s performing in your neighbourhood!
Oh, and I almost forgot: Roger’s new album “Classics Live” is going to be released soon. It is a spectacular collection of his live performances from solo, band and orchestra shows around the world recorded during his 2010 tour. And: Roger is giving away the download of an awesome live version of Dreamer on his website!
Finally, here are my photos of Roger Hodgson‘s gig at Tollwood. Hope you’ll like them; the quality is a little better than on facebook!! Unfortunately we were only allowed to take photos during the first three songs. That means I didn’t get the chance to catch Roger playing the piano… sadly! But I guess you can’t have it all, eh? I’m happy with what I got!
I’d like to say a heartfelt thank-you to Linda Tyler for allowing me to take these photos. Linda is one helluva kind lady, always smiling and always there to help Roger’s friends/fans with whatever we need. She’s simply amazing!
And then there’s Kathy, our dear friend who is the driving force behind Roger’s Garden Gate (and Roger’s web-master!). She is the one who has brought us all together… Here’s a big virtual hug for you Kathy – but you really should have been there with the rest of us for the real thing!! Maybe next time??
Click on the images to see their larger versions. Enjoy!
Finally a cooler day… The weather was incredibly hot until last night a heavy thunderstorm cooled things down. Today it’s been raining on and off; I’ll enjoy it as long as it last! Seeing Malta’s weather forecast really makes me want to stay here forever!
Six long months waiting for Roger Hodgson’s gig at the Tollwood Summer Festival (I bought my ticket in January!) – and now it’s already over; the days have flown by, just as good times tend to do!
Tuesday night our friend Gregor received a shocking e-mail from Linda: After Roger’s concert in Quimper/France they were unable to fly to Munich because French air traffic controllers chose to strike exactly between Tuesday evening until Thursday morning!! In another e-mail at lunchtime on Wednesday Linda told him they were still in France… She certainly managed to keep us in suspense! Well, we all know how dedicated Roger is to his fans. In the end they drove by bus to Germany, then hired a “little jet” and arrived at the venue half an hour before the start of the gig!
Even after such a harrowing journey, a beaming Linda came out before the show to greet and hug each of us, after arranging photo passes for those of us with cameras and organising those coveted little “after show” passes for the whole gang…
And what about Roger & Aaron? Nothing short of astonishing. You could not only see, but also hear and feel how much they enjoyed playing for about 4,500 people! After opening with The Long Way Home, Roger explained to the crowd what had happened that had caused the delay, and then played Give A Little Bit. Thank you Gregor (again – I’ll be forever in debt with you LOL!) for capturing it. I had recorded the speech too, but the sound is awful…
Because of the half-hour delay to the start of the show, they also did away with the intermission as apparently there was a curfew and they weren’t allowed to play after 10 pm. Roger’s voice was impeccable as always – and if you believe that I’m biased (which I am but that doesn’t mean I would lie!), today’s ‘Abendzeitung’ captioned Roger’s photo thus: “Glasklar wie immer” = crystal-clear as always! (Although the journalist who wrote the article, a certain Arno Frank Eser, should be ashamed to change Aaron into Eric… I mean, that guy gets paid for his writing/researching, right?!)
Still not showing any signs of fatigue, Roger welcomed quite a crowd of fans at the after-show meet & greet – all separately in individual groups of friends. His incredible gift of making you feel good is just amazing. Thank you for being the person you are Roger!
I will post photos on Saturday or Sunday, but if you don’t want to wait that long, there are unedited pics of the concert on facebook. But here’s the set list – kindly provided by Gregor (thank you!!). I don’t know how he does it, but he seems to get it every time LOL! *envy*
The friendships that were made through Roger’s music are lasting ones; it never ceases to amaze me how well we’re all matched, even though we’re all so different from each other.
Our little Garden Gang group was almost unchanged from March 2009: Mick & Sharon (Ireland), Claudia (Germany), Christine (Austria), Gregor & Family (Germany), Anina & Sámal (Faroe Islands), Miriam & Olaf (Germany) Sylvia (Switzerland), and last but really not least, Lisa & Jenna (Wisconsin, USA) (yes that’s right, USA!!). Seeing each other again was like coming home… We all stayed at the same hotel (Best Western Aparthotel) very close to the Tollwood venue, which meant we were able to spend many hours together. Especially dinner and after-dinner drinks on the first night were hard work on the muscles: the laughter was killing us all LOL!
We’re already looking forward to the next time… Mick mentioned Dublin to be a possibility in the future – well, I think I’ll be there!
Something that’s been nagging me
I don’t really want to taint the wonderful time we all had with negativity, which is why I’m hesitating a little to write about the organisational aspect of the event. On the other hand I believe one should mention these things, not least because people might mistakenly blame Roger or his management. Interestingly, Roger said in the beginning, “I don’t know if they allow you to dance here, but…” As if he knew already that dancing was a big no-no as far as the organisers were concerned.
But for more serious starters, there was the opening of the gate – or more precisely two openings. After queuing for hours at the outside gate, one scrambled to queue at one of eight entrances to the concert tent. And “queue” isn’t even accurate; there were no lines to speak of, just crowds. Because of the delay, tensions started to rise a little, and by the time the metal doors did open (to the outside, i. e. onto the crowd and no security staff in sight!), people just seemed to be crazy. I’m honestly surprised – and relieved! – that nobody got hurt in the resulting stampede as people scrambled for what they could scramble for (really, really sorry for the pun!!), which were the unnumbered seats! It was like a huge game of musical chairs, only it wasn’t funny.
I’ve decided not to describe the events as they kept unfolding throughout the concert, courtesy of the security guys and girls. The name printed on the staff t-shirts was “MfG”. That is a German abbreviation for “Mit freundlichen Grüßen“ (= with kind regards). Of course I’m sure that’s not the company’s name, but the association in the mind is there. Well, what can I say, I’ve never seen security staff behave like these people did, and kind or friendly aren’t attributes that would jump to mind. What’s certain, however, is that the organizers didn’t have a clue what Roger Hodgson is all about. Let’s leave it at that. Maybe, just maybe, they will know better next time, but I doubt it…
More kitten shots… Human presence still seems extremely intimidating to the little guys, something that I really cannot figure out. From far, they do see us interact with the other cats (most importantly, with their mother!), but one step in their direction, and they just run like hell. Max (pictured below) is slightly less scared than Moritz, who is a real escape artist. He’s so quick, you wouldn’t even notice that he’d started running.
I can't see you... so you can't see me either - right?!
Don't come any closer!
You think you gonna catch me? Keep dreaming. Ha!
What do you want from me anyway?
As you can imagine, my life has been playing out in a very tight radius recently. Mainly stationed on the living room sofa, I do occasionally venture out into the garden; an attempt at keeping sane. Still trying to make sense of what’s happening to me, really. I mean, I’ve never been really ill and this cholesterol thing really scares me. The funny part is, I lost two kilos in the last couple of weeks; if I start a diet now, where will that take me?! I feasted on bread with ‘cholesterol-reducing’ margarine today (just remembering the taste sends shudders down my spine), and I even switched from coffee to tea – if only for the reason that it tastes slightly less yucky with skimmed milk than coffee… *huge sigh* Stupid question on the side: Why does margarine have to be salted??
For starters, here’s the beautiful song whose title I used for this post, to set the mood:
Yesterday my son spent a few hours at home with his Ibanez guitar, a very photogenic piece, which I happily hijacked with my camera. (All shots taken with extension tube, hence the extremely shallow DOF.)
OK, I promise, this is the last one for today! Wish y’all a happy Sunday!
Here are a few impressions (um… quite a few LOL!) of how the week ended. Home at 2 am on Saturday morning. And yes, that is late if you’re my age! Keith and Julian from Noise Studios moved their “Noise@…” events from Connection to Brookies, also in Victoria, three weeks ago. The setting is great (think typical converted Gozitan farmhouse, with a few modern touches thrown in), and thus offered some nice atmospheric fodder for my lens. Before moving upstairs for the music, we ate at the restaurant downstairs (which Brookies is mainly known for), and the food was great too!
As a starter, here is the weather forecast for Christmas week. While a lot of Europe is covered in snow, it seems our little island is farther away than ever from getting getting a glimpse of the fluffy white stuff. How often have I told you that I miss it terribly?!
A bit of dreadful weather like we enjoyed last Sunday (boy, it was coooold!!) was just perfect to enjoy a cosy afternoon with noise@connection. Again. Our Sunday outing to the Duke has become a regular fixture on our weekend calendar!
noise@connection is a live music event – entrance is free of charge – taking place weekly at the Connection Bistro & Wine Bar in the winter season. Connection is tucked away inside a shopping mall in Victoria, called The Duke. Starting at around 4 pm, local musicians set the appropriate atmosphere for an enjoyable afternoon out with friends, but there’s more. Tapas are served for free throughout, and they are just begging to be washed down with Philip’s locally produced wine, and prices are very reasonable. (Although other Maltese and foreign wines are available, I strongly recommend to go for his Philip’s!)
The crowd is a mixed one, from the very young to the, um… a little more mature (no prizes for guessing which crowd I’m part of!).
The music is varied, too; covers of Eagles, Cold Play, Leonard Cohen, Plain White Tees or even Pink Floyd (just a very few mentioned off the top of my head) are performed, going hand in hand with the various artists’ own songs. On alternating Sundays, local and foreign DJ’s lend yet another musical angle to the eclectic melange that is noise@connection.