Together with 10cc and Queen, Supertramp was one of the key British bands from the ’70s to fuse the ambitious eclecticism and conceptual richness of progressive rock with a decidedly pop sensibility. At its best, Supertramp was sharp and tuneful, crafting jazzy, multilayered mini-symphonies that were easy to hum but still conveyed a sweet feeling of melancholy reflection.
Most of these elements were present during Friday’s sold-out performance.
Although the group — now a septet — will probably never recapture the level of inspiration it enjoyed during its heyday, it has stubbornly refused to become a mere nostalgia act, mixing the obligatory oldies with a generous serving of new material.
Unfortunately, the audience was restless during the songs from “Slow Motion,” Supertramp’s latest studio effort — a pity, since the extended instrumental antics of tunes such as “Tenth Avenue Breakdown” came quite close to capturing the moody bravado of the 1974 album “Crime of the Century.”
Ironically enough, the show’s problems began with the performance of crowd favorites “Give a Little Bit” and the unavoidable “The Logical Song,” both of which were originally composed and sung by founding member Roger Hodgson with his unmistakable high-pitched vocals.
Hodgson left the group in 1982, and Supertramp’s decision to continue performing his songs is, to use a polite word, a dishonest choice, and one that turned part of the show into a second-rate affair.
On the other hand, the tunes written by keyboardist/vocalist and current bandleader Rick Davies sounded tastier than ever. Davies’ bluesy growl has only gotten better with age, and his passionate renditions of classic, self-penned Supertramp fare such as “Asylum,” “From Now On” and “Downstream” provided the evening’s most powerful — and timeless — moments.