Linz - 08-21-09
by Gabi Peschke
translated by Elke Beckett
I had the pleasure of attending Roger's wonderful concert in Deggendorf and there I met another fan who told me that Roger will be performing with an orchestra in Linz on August, 21st 2009. THANK YOU for the hint! Experiencing one (or much rather: many) of Roger's orchestra shows is a long cherished wish of mine and I immediately knew that I would make that trip from Munich to Linz on August 21st. So I set off in the afternoon and without any traffic jam or coincidences I arrived in Linz very early and I found myself amidst the events. The whole city was on their feet already. The open air concert took place in the context of the Linz cityfest 2009 which was sponsored by a local newspaper, the "Kronen-Zeitung." The concert was scheduled for 21:00h and before Roger there were two other artists (Oliver Wimmer, My Excellence) to be seen on the stage. As a consequence of this there were screaming teenies in front of the stage. I was sure that they would - at least in large parts- have dissipated by the beginning of the main act, so that I would be able to place myself right in the front row then. I really wasn't up for joining that screaming crowd right from the start. I ran the risk and my strategy succeeded.
Like this I had the chance to stroll around the city a bit and I could watch the hustle and bustle.
I met 3 people from Vienna, one of them was wearing a quite beautiful Roger T-shirt with personal dedication. Aha, I had found some like-minded people. We got to talk to each other and one of them, a young man, told me that he had gotten the T-shirt in 1999 in Vienna where Roger had put up a three hour concert all on his own in front of 300 people! When we were talking, we could see Roger arriving in the backstage area in a van.
The three from Vienna were hoping to get an autograph of Roger for the girl's T-Shirt (she was wearing a RH-T-shirt as well) and they stayed there and waited. I was sure that Roger would now concentrate on the forthcoming concert and his music only and I headed for the stage in order to make sure that I got a good place in front of the stage. Anxiously I was watching the deep black bank of clouds which had formed in the meantime and now was moving towards the main stage. I stood in second row behind some teenies who had however decided to remain there and I was waiting for the concert - excited and full of pleasant anticipation. Howard was scurrying about the stage and we know we hadn't long to go. I stroke up a conversation with my neighbour, who was - as it should turn out during the concert - a charming Austrian guy. :-) During his teen-years - I guess it's been quite a while since those days, for him as well as for me ;-) - he was an absolute Supertramp-fan and he then lost track of the band and Roger. He himself is a musician and he plays with a band. It was his first Roger-concert.
Finally, there were signs of starting off: The musicians of the Bruckner orchestra together with their conductor (I think his name is Heinrich Schiff), who got interviewed just before by the Kronen-newspaper came on stage, followed by Jesse Siebenberg (drums), Ian Stewart (bass), Aaron (wearing a suit - wow!) and finally Roger! It was great to see so many people on Roger's stage for a change. He started out - as always - with "Take the long way home". The setlist comprised further: "Give a little bit", "Lovers in the wind" (Roger once again emphasized the importance of this song in our times), "Hide in your shell", "Easy does it" followed by my beloved "Sister Moonshine", "Breakfast in America", "Soapbox Opera", "Along came Mary" (so beautiful time and time again), "Logical Song", "Lord is it mine", "School", "If everyone was listening" (I love it), "Only because of you" (I had the privilege of hearing this one live for the first time), "Dreamer", "Fools Overture" (to me this is a real masterpiece). I'm not sure whether I listed all the songs. I love them all!
It was great once again to sing all the wonderful songs together with Roger (during "Breakfast" we did so at Roger's explicit request). He was in a very good temper, was talking quite a lot and it was great to see how much fun was obviously had by everyone on stage. One thing did surprise me though: the orchestra was very restrained and in a sense relatively quiet in the background. I must admit that I had imagined that to be a bit more bombastic. During the concert there were two moments with continued whistling but the ladies and gents on stage were not the least disconcerted by that. At the end of "Soapbox" they weren't exactly in tune which was answered by Roger with a grin and a discerning wave of the hand.
The good vibes onstage were almost immediately transferred to the audience and everybody was having a ball. The atmosphere was simply wonderful.
I once again felt like standing in Roger's living-room and like he (and in this case all those great musicians) was playing his wonderful music to his friends, that is for us. That's something I would not have expected to that extent from that concert in Linz. My Austrian neighbour was completely enthused by the music as well as by the private atmosphere. He had prepared "wishlists" for each song, which he could also have done without because Roger was playing all those songs, which are so dear to his heart, anyway. Thus he held up his notes just as affirmations. I had to assist him in sorting them out, as well! ;-) I think Roger was quite amused by this whole thing. When "Lord is it mine" was coming up, Roger told him: "turn it around", so that the audience behind us could see what was coming next, too. ;-) In the end my Austrian friend called out a cordial "Thank you" to Roger.
Sadly time flew past much too quickly yet again. At the end of the actual concert they honoured Roger by presenting him with the front page of the Kronen-newspaper headlining (if I remember it correctly) "Roger Hodgson conquers Linz" framed in a red picture frame. You could hear several critical voices in the audience regarding this tribute.
Actually Roger was just about to please us with the encores "Two of us" and "It's raining again" (in reality and unexpectedly not a single drop of rain came down, unbelievable!) and he was calling out to us: "Wait a minute". This demand was in no way required of course, nobody would have left. Addressing the charming female presenter he said that this would not fit into his suitcase very well and thanked her for it.
Finally we were allowed to enjoy the two encores and after Roger had stated: "who knows when I will return to Linz", even a third one ("Give a little bit").
And so another wonderful and unforgettable concert evening drew to it's close. Afterwards my Austrian neighbour succeeded in receiving a drumstick from Jesse Siebenberg (after some searching). He was totally enthralled and said that he is a huge fan of Jesse's father, whereupon Jesse said: "Me too!". Unfortunately there was none left for me, but that doesn't matter.
In the end we again met with that group of three from Vienna and they were absolutely proud of the autograph they had eventually managed to get for the T-shirt.
Actually I always travel to Roger's concerts on my own, but there I always meet with incredibly nice people from the huge "fanfamily" and more and more names which are familiar from the guestbook on Roger's homepage now show up in the real world. Roger is connecting people!