Taking the long way home (a 20yr old guide)

It was the 20th May 2017 and after checking in to our hotel in Paddington after a long trip from the South West we had a freshen up and it was time to see Roger. This would have been the second year in a row seeing him, only this time we would be 6 rows from the front of the stage at the Royal Albert Hall!

We took a walk through Hyde Park on the way to the venue and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The sky was blue and there was enough sunshine to see the glory of the Albert memorial opposite. A sign outside with Roger on it confirmed tonight was the night!

Many people crowded at the entrance but then we realised we weren’t entering from Arena F, we needed to walk round to Arena A! The entrance was eerily quiet but we managed to go straight in, oh my gosh this was exciting.

We bought a quick drink and navigated to our seats. The stage was set. A large drum kit at the back accompanied by synths and in the middle a beautiful Yamaha Grand Piano. Rogers acoustic guitars all stood proudly in front of them alongside his keyboard. To the right side of the stage there was a table of numerous brass instruments and gadgets and gizmos. The stage was lit in a calming blue and green shrubbery had been brought in especially as if to create a relaxed feeling.

The Royal Albert Hall seated over 5000 people that night, and the atmosphere was wonderful. The excitement built until they all graced the stage kicking off with “Take the long way home”

All of my friends have no idea who Roger Hodgson is and I have to explain he is the mastermind behind the popular group ‘Supertramp’. Normally a few songs being played from the album ‘Breakfast in America’ confirms to them that they know the group! As much as people should know who Roger is we like the fact that we get it and others don’t. Being in our 20s makes the music more special and sentimental to us.

The night was full of staggering music and a quick glance round the room showed me that the audience was buzzing and having just as much fun as the group on stage. I believe that the group who play with Roger are just as incredible as the man himself and all deserve great admiration for their musical abilities. We found much amusement to learn that some of his Canadian colleagues tried hard to practice some of the lyrics which are required to be sung in a British accent.

I am 29 years old and my girlfriend who is 22 both love Roger and have adored all of his music (yes all! Every album back to back). We don’t just love him because of his music alone. When you see him live he confirms to you what a good hearted man he is. I don’t believe it is possible to create such heartfelt lyrics as Roger does without knowing how to connect with people and he does that with ease.

Roger played some great tracks from In the Eye of the Storm, Breakfast in America, Crime of the Century and an exquisite performance of Fools Overture from ‘Even in the Quietest Moments’ on Grand Piano. There were countless other tracks but he picked some lovely lesser known tracks, well, at least lesser known to most people.

By the moment ‘Dreamer’ kicked in we both immediately stood up from our seats and started clapping and dancing for Roger. The people around us weren’t as quick and for a moment Roger was in direct eye contact. Roger looked directly at us and delivered that wonderful smile and a wink. Having that briefest of connections with Roger was a wonderful moment.

The room was now anything but still. Everyone in the audience felt commanded to stand up and have a dance. Song after song it got better. The happiness was in the air around us and you could feel it right through your soul. Roger made us both intensely happy that night and he deserves great thanks.

A well deserved encore brought more fun including most of the audience taking out their umbrellas and dancing to “Its raining again”. I didn’t want it to end. The bittersweet thing about seeing Roger perform is that it feels very fleeting because he takes you on such a journey through his own life with his wonderful music.

I have learnt that Roger does take requests so if we are lucky enough to see him perform again next year I will request my favourite song “Poor Boy” from the album ‘Crisis what Crisis’. I can imagine his accompanying vocalist doing a superb job of those crazy sounds at the beginning.

The show was now over and we loved every second of it. We stepped outside of the Royal Albert Hall confirmed that Hyde Park was locked for the night. Being unable to find a taxi we decided to “take the long way home” which seemed fitting.

Thanks for the giving us young folks a wonderful night Roger, you move us with your music and for that we are all eternally grateful.

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Why you should at least try it

I want to try and convince you that Classical music is worth trying out.In this blog I will give some examples of classical songs for you to try out, and what I feel when I listen to them. For a bit of fun I have prepared a menu of delicacies that you can listen to at specific times of the day.

I will try to explain my feelings towards the music and little things to look out for. I hope you will listen to the pieces and perhaps give your views on them in the comments!

Too often classical music is seen as a stuffy genre that is only listened to by older generations, and has a certain pomposity about it. I try to look past all of the culture of classical and just try to appreciate what the music brings me on a personal level. I love classical music because sometimes it helps me to relax or touches upon a mood that other music doesn’t manage to reach. 

Waking up

Horrible isn’t it! You’re deep within the land of slumber and when your alarm goes off it pierces through it like a pin to a balloon. Instead of setting a typical alarm tone built into your phone why not set the below piece to wake you up as it starts off gentle, and then lifts you up gradually acting like a bridge between sleeping and waking:

“Morning” Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Op. 23″

Getting ready for work

You are now starting to get ready for work and you might reach for the radio and in a zombie like fashion switch to radio one just like all the other cattle consumers that prefer to be fed over produced pop songs. Today though, you will listen to something different! This piece is probably one of the most recognisable cello performances and is a perfect accompaniment to your morning.

“Cello Suite no.1” by J.S Bach 

Commuting to work (A or B)

Here is where you are given an option! before you step out of the front door, you might already have a feeling whether it will be a good day or a bad day. Either way you will need a piece of classical that suits your mood so pick accordingly. For a good day pick A or a bad day pick B.

(A) Piano Sonata no.11 in A Major “Turkish March” by Amadeus Mozart

(B) “Romeo & Juliet” op.64 by Segei Prokofiev

Eating lunch in the park/sat by a river

Your are on your break at work so it’s time to unwind. I recommend that you go for a nice stroll somewhere pretty. I am privileged as the town I work in has a few parks dotted around, and a river running through it. Take out your packed lunch and find somewhere quiet to sit and listen. This French piece is very gentle and is from a romantic suite of music that will personify the gentle breeze and the sunlight which caresses your face. If you examine the complete suite further each separate movement is written about a different type of animal.

“The Swan” from Les Carnaval Des Animaux by Camille Saint-saëns

On your way home

You’re free as a bird! The day is finally over and it is now the longest time that you will have, between one work day ending and another beginning. This calls for something fun and uplifting. Nothing quite fills me with joviality than “Jupiter” by Holst. Gustav Holst is a well known composer who wrote different compositions for each of the planets known about at that time (this was the 19th century).

“Jupiter” (the bringer of jollity) taken from the planets suite by Gustav Holst

Washing the dishes

After you indulge yourself with some well deserved food there are always dishes to wash. If you are fortunate enough to not own a dish washer like I am, then you will have the pleasure of listening to this piece By Strauss. As you deal with your mundane task you can drift back in time to a golden age in European history where in Vienna, there was the elegance of the many waltzes held in those opulent dance halls. This song is one of the most played pieces of classical and is now an unofficial Austrian national anthem.

“The Blue Danube” or An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314  by Johann Strauss

Relaxing before bed

For something to listen to before bed, it needs to be gentle and to put you into a calming mood. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the Goldberg variations to cure the insomnia of a Russian Diplomat at Dresden court. The pieces were composed with the utmost restraint. The pieces would be played by one of Bach’s pupils from an adjoining chamber as the count would try to sleep.

Aria no.1 from the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach

Classical music, like some art can still be enjoyed even if you don’t know the meaning of why it was written.  Famously British composer ‘Elgar’ wrote a piece titled ‘The Enigma varations’ which to this day still holds an unknown meaning and is left to the imagination of those listening, my piano teacher thought the music was inspired by the landscapes of his childhood home. As much as I like the poetry of lyrics in current pop songs, classical music works a little harder to get through to your soul. The reason why most motion pictures include a sweeping score at moments of intense drama, is because this type of music speaks to us on an emotional level. I will agree that Classical music requires your concentration and you need to be prepared to hear some things you might not like, but if you give it a chance it can be so rewarding. I often go to live classical performances with my father and there is nothing quite like hearing this music live. You get to enjoy the sound, but also to see professional musicians playing music with such relish. Normally when you go to live performances You will be played what was scheduled for the evening, but if there is an encore; that is where the real fun begins. When classical musicians are given creative licence they normally want to show off, and end up showcasing pieces of music you may have never discovered, had it not been for that night!

One piece I discovered on a night of classical was the following and it amused me how comical the violin sounds, and it almost makes it sound alien. The speed and intensity is truly astounding. In this piece the Violin reaches the pitch of a whistle or bird song. For those impatient skip to 3:50 on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean:

Niccolo Paganini – La Campanella

Don’t be afraid to let yourself go when listening to classical music. If it lifts you up then let it. If it pushes you down and makes you sad, then that is okay too. Any form of Art is intended to move us, and the more you expose yourself to different sensations and feelings the richer your life will become.