It’s not often I’m visiting the UK for holiday-reasons. This time my wife, one of our sons and I chose to go to the Lake District.
We’re talking early to mid-July so that meant the Night Of The Prog and the Dutch show by Camel were out of reach for me.
Fortunately I found an alternative because Camel were touring the UK at the time. Closest to the Lake District was the beautiful city of York
so my wife and I combined the concert with a visit to this great city with so many gorgeous buildings and proof of an extensive history.
Through Ton Scherpenzeel of Kayak-fame, the current keyboard-player with Camel since the passing away of Guy Leblanc, I was granted a photo-pass (many thanks Ton!).
It was a seated concert in this very nice venue, not too big but with a great atmosphere, comfortable seats and great acoustics.
One could appreciate the great vibe between the band and the audience from the first note and after the concert Andy Latimer told me,
his extraordinary vivid performance had been triggered entirely by the enthusiasm of the audience.
From the huge back catalogue of Camel the band chose to play a lot of really ‘old’ songs: the opening song is a very well-known one from the first album:
Never let Go. Indeed, I bet many prog-heads would like the band to continue playing forever!!
Since the untimely passing away of Guy and the difficult period Latimer had to go through I still consider it a miracle we can hear this band performing live again, and how!!
From their second album one of my personal favourites: The White Rider, not in the least because for me the Camel-story started with the Mirage album:
from then on I was hooked on this band, buying every record and going to as many shows as I possibly could.
The great trip down memory lane continued with five tracks from the Moonmadness album and one of Raindances in between:
Unevensong. Another favourite of mine from the Nude album: Drafted. Fond memories again because the Nude show in Utrecht (Netherlands)
was one of the best shows in ‘prog’ I’ve ever seen. Shivers down the spine of very many in the audience due to a stunning performance of
the beautiful instrumental Ice from the album I Can See Your House Form Here.
Obviously the focus and spotlights mostly were on Mr. Camel himself,
Andy Latimer, playing as in his heydays. Even his vocals were better than several occasions I went to see Camel in the past!
A rather modest role for Camel’s second keyboard player Jason Hart, but don not underestimate his contribution!
The orchestral and full bodied sound could only be performed live thanks to his intricate performance.
Drummer Denis Clement mat not be a performer like Andy Ward, but he is a great musician and his skills are extraordinary.
After the show he told me he was able to pay Guy a visit before Guy’s passing away so both of them probably realized then that
meeting would probably be their last. Since Denis lives in Europe most of the time, they didn’t have much contact outside of working with Camel.
Ton Scherpenzeel, a fellow Dutchman and well known artist in his own right, was playing his many keyboards with dedication
and he seemed truly concentrated because many of the songs weren’t part of the set
list when he played with the band in 1984, 1991 and in 1999.
I must admit I missed some of the sounds of the vintage keyboards like the moog but overall
Ton did a really fine job and is entitled to his own interpretation of the songs.
On other occasions long time bass player and vocalist Colin Bass had a slightly more important role in the band but the bearded Bass
seemed to be perfectly at ease with Latimer doing the major part of all vocals.
Next one this evening was one of the best songs on Dust And Dreams: Mother Road, followed by another track from the same album:
Hopeless Anger also one of the most superb tunes Latimer has written through the years.
It was the perfect prologue to a third song from Dust And Dreams: Whispers In The Rain, melancholy all the way and almost a saddening ending of the show.
Fortunately there were encores and like many, many times before Lady Fantasy (from the album Mirage) proved to be an ultimate classic favourite,
only this time just solo’s by Andy, no explosive organ soloing. Entirely dedicated to the two members of the Camel family who recently passed away:
Guy Leblanc and Chris Rainbow was the song The Long Goodbyes, taken from the Stationary Traveller album, originally sung by Chris Rainbow.
With their images projected behind the band, the current line-up of Camel paid homage to these two former members of the band.
It seemed the perfect way to end the show, but that would have been a rather melodramatic ending.
The crowd demanded one more song for un unforgettable finale and obviously the band felt that too so another encore was performed,
a classic song from the Snow Goose album: Rhayader Goes To Town. The perfect conclusion of a perfect show.
A highly memorable concert by of the greatest prog-bands ever!!
Andy can you please call again and preferably with a new album…..
Never Let Go
The White Rider
Song Within a Song
Spirit of the Water
Whispers in the Rain
Long Goodbyes (dedicated to Chris Rainbow and Guy LeBlanc)
Rhayader Goes To Town