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Bush Empire, London 8 October 2011
helping of Caravan and Curved Air was a musical triumph with both hope
and anticipation fully realised and at times exuberantly surpassed.
And on a
night when the passing of time apparently stood still for three and
quarter blissful hours, both bands stepped up to the plate.
arguably played their best show since their reformation and Caravan
eloquently restated the case that there simply is no substitute for
their blend of compositional substance, musical brilliance and hippy
Pye Hastings projected a civil servant's style demeanour leaving multi
instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson to cut through the stasis
It's been a
good 12 months for Caravan. After years of being dormant they
reformed for the ITV Legends concert and have since exploded back on the
festival circuit at both the Cambridge Festival and High Voltage. Not
content with that, they put themselves under added pressure by recording
tonight's pivotal London show straight to CD.
that in mind and in sharp contrast to Sonja Kristina's early theatrical
hippy shapes, the band initially seemed rooted to the spot in studied
concentration. Frontman Pye Hastings projected a civil servant's style
demeanour leaving multi instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson to cut
through the stasis with a whirl of activity including his role as an MC.
But it was
the music not the absence of charisma that held sway as the hunched
keyboard player Jan Schelhaas provided melodic colour and fluid runs
while drummer Mark Walker was a muscular powerhouse.
Photo: Andrew Lock/GRTR!
result was a magical night with the band dipping into 'In The Land of
Grey and Pink' and 'For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night'. And despite
the absence of dope in the air, much of the audience nodded along in
appreciation and partial familiarity, while occasionally struggling to
remember exactly which songs they were listening to.
The familiar 'In the Land of Grey & Pink' was a notable exception to the
above as the band explored some dreamy, proggy and melodic vistas.
Lain, Hugh' was equally impressive being propelled by tightly structured
riffs and 'Golf Girl' made use of the unlikely percussive talents of
Richardson on spoons and drummer Mark Walker on washboard.
the musicianship was inspiring - especially Geoffrey's violin work - it
is still Pye's inimitable vocals that sets Caravan apart form their
vocals meandered, gently rose, hovered and caressed the music to bring
wry expression to some clever lyrics. Bass player Jimmy Leverton also
periodically emerged from the shadows to add some integral backing
vocals and another essential layer to some meticulous arrangements.
Significantly the 'newer' material such as the poppy 'Smoking Gun (Right
For Me)' sat well in between the older outings, albeit it sounded a
little like Mark Knopfler without the band's normal whimsy, but still
delivered a catchy hook.
Unauthorised Breakfast Item', was another newie (a mere 7 years old) and
was the kind of funky workout that might have come from Geoffrey
Richardson previous association with Quantum Jump.
But for me
the highlight was 'The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again' with its
mellifluous melodic sweep and Pyle's magnificent vocals, while the suite
'Nine Feet Underground' provided the perfect finish and showcase for the
band's virtuosic strengths.
Curved Air played for well over an hour with Sonja Kristina in fine
voice and clearly relishing the occasion with some nifty dance steps.
the spotlight on the acoustic 'Melinda (More or Less)' and the gusty
'Marie Antoinette' and aside from breathing fresh life into 'Back Street
Love' and 'It happened Today', the band launched themselves into several
bombastic psychedelic passages with violinist Paul Sax a mesmerising
presence and guitarist Kit Harris supreme.
And with the
exception of the overwrought piano led 'Metamorphosis', they beautifully
recreated the music of an era when adventurous playing met the notion of
a vibe head on. The psychedelic light show provided the perfect backdrop
to an evening high on nostalgia but infused with brilliant timeless
Noel Buckley & Andrew Lock
Curved Air video interview
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