Review by Dean Pedley, photos by Lisa Billingham
A band that will always be fondly associated with the golden era of prog during the first half of the 70’s, Camel never went through the internal power struggles that ripped apart some of their peers during the 80’s. Instead the decade found the band simply fading away, only to return at sporadic intervals with slightly altered line-ups. News of Andy Latimer’s debilitating illness several years ago seemed to mark the end for Camel before they announced an unexpected return to the stage at the end of 2013. 2014 finds them back again, playing an extended set of shows around Europe with a two and half hour set including a full performance of 1975’s The Snow Goose.
Receiving a standing ovation simply for walking on stage it is clear that tonight was going to be a special occasion for band and audience alike. Taking in the entire first half of the show, The Snow Goose is performed with the smooth deliberation of the original and, almost four decades on, has lost none of its captivating charm. Exquisite musicianship is, naturally, par for the course but the sight and sound of Latimer’s guitar playing is truly mesmerising. Often cited as an influence by Steve Rothery, Latimer has a tone, style and elegance all of his own. He is accompanied by long standing lieutenant Colin Bass together with Jason Hart (keyboards), Denis Clement (drums) and, deputising for the absent Guy LeBlanc, Ton Scherpenzeel (also on keyboards). Beautiful and haunting in equal measure, the music tells the story and The Snow Goose remains thought provoking prog rock of the very highest calibre.
For the second half there is considerably more interaction between band and audience as Latimer and Bass introduce a selection of the back catalogue running the gamut from ‘Never Let Go’ (from the 1973 eponymous debut) through the quirky and quintessentially English ‘Fox Hill’ and ‘For Today’ (2002’s A Nod and a Wink). For much of the set vocals are the window dressing to some dazzling instrumental passages but the stirring emotion of ‘Drafted’ is a message for all ages. Eventually the set reaches the stirring climax of ‘Lady Fantasy’ and with a smile and a wave and a nod and a wink they leave the stage. Whatever the future might hold for Camel, those of us here tonight were fortunate indeed to witness a truly remarkable evening.
1. The Snow Goose
2. Never Let Go
3. Song Within A Song
5. The Hour Candle
7. Watching the Bobbins
8. Fox Hill
9. For Today
10. Lady Fantasy
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