Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson and company dazzle in Salamanca

By Jason Klaiber and Stephen Wilt

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The legendary Roger Hodgson, voice of Supertramp, filled the walls of the Seneca-Allegany Casino’s events center on Saturday, Oct. 7. Bringing back memories for fans who remember that distinctive tenor voice as well as those brilliant sax solos and cutting keyboard riffs, the roughly two-hour show abided by a 19-song setlist of hit singles and album cuts.

Behind the scenes, the touring crew and venue personnel rushed by us, sometimes with equipment in hand but always with focus in their eyes. We were fortunate enough to introduce Hodgson and his band onstage, as patiently awaiting audience members looked up at us amidst glowing lights.

“What a beautiful venue,” Hodgson stated to the sold-out concert hall.

Hodgson wasted no time giving the Salamanca crowd what they wanted to hear, opening the set with “Take the Long Way Home,” its harmonica-laden opening inviting a rise of applause and cheerful hollering. Followed by a remarkable rendition of “School,” off 1974’s Crime of the Century, he segued by saying he would be taking the crowd “back to school.”

Hodgson then broke into back-to-back tracks from his 1984 solo debut In the Eye of the Storm, those being “In Jeopardy” and “Lovers in the Wind,” the latter of which he recounted writing out of inspiration from a personal relationship. The band later played the songs “Only Because of You” and “Had a Dream” from the same album. Adding onto the aforementioned tunes and “Along Came Mary,” released on Hodgson’s 2000 album Open the Door, Hodgson played a litany of other choice Supertramp compositions, including “Breakfast in America,” “The Logical Song” and “Fool’s Overture.” He concluded with a two-song encore comprising “Dreamer” and “Give a Little Bit.”

Throughout the concert, his time was split between playing a 12-string guitar, a keyboard and a stunning baby grand piano. Backed by a topflight band, consisting of drummer Bryan Head, bassist David J. Carpenter, and saxophonist-keyboard player Aaron Macdonald, Hodgson captivated the audience from the moment he walked on the stage.

Despite selling over 60 million albums in his career and traveling across the world along the way, the singer-songwriter still expresses humility, having remarked between songs at one point that he’s “very grateful to have lived such a blessed life.”

Afterwards, Hodgson stayed behind to sign memorabilia backstage and conveyed an unending willingness to speak with fans for as long as possible while taking pictures–evidence that the smiling, down-to-earth man you witness onstage is, without doubt, the man you meet behind the scenes.

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Daniel Romano Creates a Diamond with Modern Pressure

By Zachary Stryffeler

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When I listened to Modern Pressure, I was bombarded with jangly guitar, old-school rock organ and a killer horn section. Right from the first track, “Ugly Human Heart Pt. 1,” the album sounds like something from Bob Dylan’s early years. The album does a great job of capturing the mid ‘60s folk rock sound, much like Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde. If Romano had added a screaming harmonica to these tracks, he would have become Bob Dylan. The second song, the title track “Modern Pressure,” is by far the greatest song on the album. As the song builds the whole way to the chorus, the anticipation is answered by a hard crashing and horn wailing release. Romano croons out the title line with great emotion and feel. The song is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time and the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint.

His next song, Roya, is a good slower track that has a killer bass if you listen hard. The sound is a lot like that of The Band, sounding like an upbeat version of “I Shall Be Released.” The guitar breaks through the drums with electrifying smooth fills. Robbie Robertson would be proud. He ends the song with a sitar fill that echoes George Harrison in the last years of The Beatles. “The Pride of Queens,” the next song on the album, changes up the pace with a building ballad that culminates in a more rock-sounding chorus. The lyrics on this track really add to Romano’s depth as a songwriter. It’s simply a great rock song, good enough to be good in the 1970s. “When I Learned Your Name” has a Tom Petty sound to it. It is one of the more forgettable songs of the album as the groove never really sets in. It is more of a background track to the album. He sticks it right in the middle, not good enough for the front, but definitely not something you want to finish on.

“Sucking the Old World Dry” has the best groove on the album by far. Once the first beat kicks off, there is a great balance between the instrumentation and Romano’s voice, creating a driving feel to a slow song. The track has a loud sound that has pure rock star power. “Ugly Human Heart Pt. 2” comes next and continues the opening track in a sublime manner. The drums push the fast-paced tempo that combines with another great lyrical display from Romano with great guitar work as well. The twangy fills add even more to the Highway 61 Revisited feel of the album. He incorporates a sitar into the next track, “Impossible Green,” and then launches into a great ballad entitled “Jennifer Castle” that again shows off his great songwriting and guitar work.

“I Tried to Hold the World” is a trippy, sitar-fueled experience that takes the listener on an acid trip through Romano’s mind. The instrumentation is very tight and will be a thrill for listeners who enjoyed “Within You, Without You.” Romano closes the album with “What’s To Become of the Meaning Of Love.” This is one of Romano’s best lyrical works as he weaves this tender message throughout the entire song. The lyrics and voice come straight from the heart and poignantly close the album, leaving the listener wanting more. If Daniel Romano keeps releasing more stuff like this, expect for him to make a bigger splash in the folk genre.

Aron D’Alesio’s self-titled effort shows promise but misses the mark

By Zachary Stryffeler

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Canadian artist and front man for Young Rival Aron D’Alesio’s new self-titled album is filled with Jeff Buckley-esque, echoing guitar and Jake Bugg-sounding vocals.

The first track, “Cave Zone”, is an instrumental prelude of 30 seconds that doesn’t really create a lead-up to the album. I feel it was more of a decision that there was an extra 30 seconds of tape that they couldn’t get rid of, so they threw it in the beginning of the album in a vain effort to create a flow. It really doesn’t hurt the album that much; it just doesn’t help it at all.

With its twangy slide guitar and pop style vocals, D’Alesio has the means to crank out a great song, like “Destroyer.” It’s space-age folk. Unfortunately, the entire album sounds about the same. It comes in with echoing guitar in the beginning, and stays the same for the whole song, adding drums in at some point. If you listen to the whole album from beginning to end (which gave me a terrible headache), its hard to discern certain songs. Yes, you do hear the end of the tape and the beginning of the next, but no songs really stick out with a discerning different rhythm and different sound. That’s the problem with this album. He created a very good and distinct sound, but he let it go on for the entire length of the album. There was no change of pace or differentiation in the music. I hope that he gets back to the studio and creates some similar music that actually changes style every once in a while.