Whilst rock and roll trail blazers championed the virtues of youth, rebellion and, not dying before they got old, the past twenty-five years have seen us change our expectations of musical icons. No longer releasing ground-breaking music, once greats like The Stones, The Who, Macca, et al now see no shame in growing old, becoming respectful and being defined by their longevity as much as their past glories. Jagger himself once sang that old habits die hard, well now it appears the careers of old rockers die even harder.
Roger Chapman, now into his 70s and one of the hardest rockers, is further proof that some rock stars are able to grow old and maintain their historic live benchmarks. Known as much for prog as he for his r&b output, Chapman spends the majority of the evening habituating the soul world with his on-point, Rod Stewart esque, deliveries of past greats like ‘Habits of a lifetime’, ‘Burlesque’ and ‘Kiss my soul’. Older, wiser, and full of emotion, Chapman’s voice shines in the way that an older soul singers voice often does, offering much more to his songs now than perhaps at his commercial peak.
As enjoyable as his R&B tracks are thought, the evening’s most interesting elements come when Chapman looks outside of the traditional song structure and goes in search of his prog rock past. ‘The weavers answer’ and ‘My friend the sun’, in particular, both offer a glimpse into a different side of Chapman; one of an adventurous artist who pushed musical boundaries into unchartered waters. Changing rhythms, interesting orchestration and abstract/grounded narratives even may make links with parts of Bowie’s ‘Black star’.
Improving with age, and still in fine voice, Roger Chapman more than championed the belief that you never lose it.