Roger Chapman performed his “Family and Friends” show at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Saturday 13th January, celebrating an impressive 50 years since Family’s debut album ‘Music in a Doll’s House’ was released. The air was filled with energy both on and off the stage; every member of the audience seemed to have appreciated that it’s rare to see an artist who’s been around for such a long time perform with so much spirit, as though no time has passed.
Nevertheless, it’s not just his spirit that hasn’t changed: Chapman’s distinctive voice with that signature vibrato is also still the same as the 25-year-old’s that sang on the 1968 record. A successful career spanning five decades is an extraordinary achievement in itself, but being able to perform songs from every era as powerfully and flawlessly as ever is – with very few exceptions – simply unparalleled. Chapman’s unfaded vocal talents are coupled with his remarkable ability to draw the audience in and keep them engaged for two entire hours. His onstage persona is strikingly natural and down-to-earth, making his listeners feel that he’s one of them.
The phenomenal band accompanying Chappo for this brief tour features Geoff Whitehorn on guitar, best known probably for his work with If and Procol Harum, and drummer John Lingwood of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Paul Hirsh plays keyboards, Poli (John) Palmer – who was a member of Family between 1969-1972 – plays vibes, Gary Twigg is on bass and Nick Payn’s saxophone parts add the jazzy feel that made Family’s music so recognizable.
The set list included a roughly equal number of songs by Family and from Chapman’s solo career. Most of the highlights were packed into the second part of the show and included the gradually intensifying ‘Top of the Hill’, Family’s ‘Gypsy Woman’, dedicated to former bandmate Charlie Whitney, and ‘Weaver’s Answer’, with great solos by Whitehorn and Payn. Following a loud standing ovation, the encore began with ‘My Friend the Sun’ and featured two more compulsory numbers: the Mike Oldfield collaboration and unforgettable rock anthem ‘Shadow on the Wall’ and Family’s 1971 classic ‘In My Own Time’.
See the complete set list below:
Visit Roger Chapman’s website to find out where he performs next.