Friday, September 06, 2002

Sleeping Beauty

On Tuesday I was officially diagnosed with sleep apnea. Last month, under advice from my GP, I spent a night at a sleep clinic attached to diodes, cathodes, and all kinds of other 'odes.' This, along with my personal testimony of sleepy days and Barb's testimony of scarey nights when I'd stop breathing, determined the diagnoses. Next month I'll go for another sleep-over which will determine how much air pressure needs to be forced down my throat so that I might finally get a good night's sleep.

Here's the thing. It seems that, from the moment the doctor pronounced the diagnosis, I've been more sleepy than ever. I've had a nap each and every day. I've been groggy. And I feel like I could stay in bed all day.

Am I just attributing laziness to illness?

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Was I In Walkerton or New Orleans?!

I've seen Supertramp 5 times now. The first in '83 at Exhibition Stadium was the most special - who can forget their first time? That was the last tour with Roger Hodgson. I'm glad I saw that show, even if I was about 150 m from the stage. I have always regreted not seeing them on the Breakfast In America tour at the Kitchener Aud in '79 - that was the last time it was just the 5 guys as they sounded on the Paris album.

The next was the Brother Where You Bound tour which is completely unmemorable, then the Free As A Bird tour at MapleLeaf Gardens in '88 - that was the one we went to together, wasn't it Trev.?

Then there was the Some Things Never Change tour at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto in '97 memorable for the crowds displeasure with the new material, their intense appreciation for the old hits, and the odd Adult Contemporary mix of the band.

Which brings us to Saturday evening at a ball-park in small town Walkerton Ontario. As soon as we knew that Barb's schedule would allow it, we made plans with Dave and Bonnie to see the show. August was a very busy month for me so I wasn't really able to enjoy the anticipation until that very day - then I packed a whole month of anticipation into 12 hours!

We met Dave and Bonnie in Teviotdale (he thought I'd need a map to find it - huh!) and they transported us to Walkerton in air conditioned comfort. We got out to get the bags and sweaters out of the trunk when it happened - Dave pulled out his wallet to pay me for the tickets. Oh, oh. I thought we had agreed to purchase our tickets separately! Barb was not amused, and I felt like dirt. Fortunately, tickets were still available at the gate - actually, it was more like a picnic table under a tarp with two women, a tin box to hold the money, and a couple hundred tickets just sitting there! And without the service charges, Dave and Bonnie's tickets cost less than ours (and about $35 each less than the Molson Amphitheatre show the night before).

Big relief - time for dinner.

Ok, no time for dinner because Walkerton is only used to feeding out of town media types who have nothing but time on their hands. After an hour of waiting, we paid for the beer and headed off to the park - fortunately there was a fry wagon which also served perogies on the way. The evening would only get better and better from then on.

As we entered the park and scanned the field for a good spot to claim I noticed some people looking at me funny - not the usual way people look at me, something different. Oh yeah, it's the Roger Hodgson t-shirt! That explains why some guy named Jamie walked up to me earlier asking if I was a member of the the Yahoo Roger Hodgson/Supertramp group. I'm not, but maybe I'll check it out - what a geek, eh (me, not him)?

The stage was on home plate. We sat in very shallow right field. Even the roadie music was cool - sixties progressive rock and jazz.

At 8:19 (Bonnie had called 8:20) the lights went down and everyone rushed the stage. Suddenly Barb and I were promoted from Right Field to 1st Base covering well off the line. When Rick put the harmonica to his lips to begin the oh so familar haunting strains of School, we were about 30 feet from the stage!!

You have probably heard that the current Supertramp line-up is much different from the hit-factory line-up of the 70s. Only Rick (vocals and keyboards), Bob (drums), and John (woodwinds and backing vocals) remain. It's hard to believe that three of the other musicians have been playing with Supertramp for something like 12 years, including Mark Hart of Crowded House fame who covers the Hodgson lead vocals (more about that later). Finally there is Jesse, Bob's son, on percussion and guitar.

This was the tightest, most talented Supertramp line-up I have ever seen and heard. They played with soul. They played with technical perfection. And they played with class. This is no Supertramp kareoke band! The old hits sounded fresh. The new jazz and R&B tunes were innovative. The pop songs were fun and note-perfect. Nothing can replace the magic of the Supertramp who gave us Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America. That was a wonderful time, but that band is gone. And that's ok, because if you're in it for the music and not the nostalgia then you have to admit, this is a great band!

From the beginning of his career, Rick Davies has been searching for a band as comfortable in a New Orleans club as on a stage in front of 50,000. He must be very, very happy, because after 35 years, this band is it.

What about the Roger Hodgson penned tunes? They played three: Take the Long Way Home, Logical Song, and Give A Little Bit. The highlight for me was definately Give A Little Bit, sung - not by Hart - but by Jessie Siebenburg leading into it on the 12-string. What a pleasant surprise. His voice is nothing like Roger's, which may be why it works. Hart has been singing Rogers songs now since '88. Sure, he can hit (as few could) those high notes, but he seems to be trying too hard; perhaps imitating Roger. Jesse does no such thing. Well done, Jessie.

The only other small picky thing I'll point out was the use of the big screen for the animated bits to a number of songs. It was mostly distracting since the bits only lasted about 30 seconds. The big exception was the classic film piece for Rudy. I've seen the image of the train speeding along the tracks as the song picks up momentum now a few times. This time it was different. The film was the same, it was the performance of the music that made it different. This time I was lost in it. It wasn't a performance so much as it was a piece of living art. For that 6 minute song, it really felt like it was Barb and I all alone with this experience of sight and sound. It's how I always imagined a rock concert should be performed.

The surprise ending to the animation for Crime was quite fun.

Can you tell I enjoyed the show?

Can't wait to see Roger Hodgson at Casino Rama on September 27!