The British band Caravan was formed in Canterbury, England in 1968 by Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals), Dave Sinclair (keyboards), Richard Sinclair (bass, vocals) and Richard Coughlan (drums). They were rather successful over a period of several years from 1968 onwards the seventies. The band belonged to the so-called Canterbury Scene: bands that blend psychedelic rock and jazz to create a distinctive sound just like their contemporaries of Soft Machine, Hatfield And The North and National Health. Also lovers of progressive rock enjoyed this style a lot. In the twenty-first century Caravan are still active as a live band.
In 2010, Pye Hastings announced that the band resumed activities in anticipation of a one-off concert recording at the Metropolis Studios for ITV in December that year. New material was written for this performance. However, the original drummer Richard Coughlan was replaced by Mark Walker. Due to illness, Coughlan couldn't handle the drumsticks properly. The gig was most of all a resounding success marking another exciting era for the band. This gig was released in its entirety on a double disc DVD in May 2011. Later on another version of this concert was released, but this time a single disc only containing the highlights of this show. This version which lasts 75 minutes gives a good overview of how the band performs nowadays. They're still going strong performing the old fan favourites.
It's just great fun to see Pye Hastings playing the lead guitar and doing the lead vocals. This also applies to Richard Coughlan who handles the additional percussion, and to the host of the evening Geoffrey Richardson who excellently plays his parts on the viola, flute, guitar, electric spoons and garden shears. Good old Jan Schelhaas is still present behind the keyboards doing what he has to do: playing fine solos and nice chords, and what about Jim Leverton on the bass guitar? He's no longer a young man but he still plays like one! Finally substitute Mark Walker doing his utmost behind the kit and the additional percussion.
The set includes classics as Memory Lain, Hugh, Headloss, Golf Girl and Nine Feet Underground, but also songs like Fingers In The Till and I'm On My Way that were new songs at the time. The images are of a surprisingly high quality with many fine camera shots. All musicians are represented from different angles, leaving an impression of professionalism and quality. After this legendary show the band stayed together and did tours in the UK and on the European mainland on a regular base! Hopefully they will continue to do this for a long time!
Undoubtedly this DVD is a must have for all Caravan fans. As one of their initial fans I had a great time watching the band perform old and new material. Don't forget to watch the interesting conversation between Pye Hastings and Geoffrey Richardson which provides you important inside information of the band over the years!
Only a couple of weeks before this review was published the sad news arrived that Richard Coughlan, founder member and drummer for Caravan for more than forty-three years, had passed away at home at the age of 66. He already was in poor health in recent years. To honour this wonderful musician, who played on great prog rock albums like In The Land Of Grey And Pink (1971), For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (1973) and Cunning Stunts (1975), I have written this review For Richard!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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