For the first time on Astounded by Sound! I have a guest scribbler, in the guise of my good mate and long-time gig going companion Phil W, who knows far more about Camel than I do, so...take it away, El Phillipo....
Never underestimate the power of music to inspire, embolden and to heal.
As Camel return to active service for the first time in a decade, there
is huge cause for both celebration and relief. This is, after all, a
moment many had feared would never come, not least due to Andy Latimer's
well documented battle with ill health. If anyone can doubt the
restorative power of music, then let this legendary musician and the
extraordinary music he has created stand as powerful evidence that even
when it seems that hope is fading, the call and allure of the creative
process wields a unique potency.
Perhaps there is something quite
magical about the timing of the return of Camel to the live arena. For
fans who have long cherished this band and its remarkable achievements,
the opportunity to experience The Snow Goose being performed in it's
entirety for the first time since the mid 1970s seems to represent a
wondrous collision between past and present, serving to
emphasise the timeless nature of music of quality and passion.
seem that, with his typical humility, Andy Latimer has expressed his
absolute delight to discover that not only has his loyal following from
'way back when' remained with him during some very dark days, but that
their enthusiasm has not faded in any way. It's been a long time since
the goose has flown!
Early indications that this was indeed going to be a
very special evening became evident as I joined the pre-concert throng
surrounding the merchandising stall. A group from Argentina had built a
short holiday in London around attending the concert. Fans had arrived
from various parts of Europe, the USA, but the long distance travel
medal must surely go to a couple who hailed from Australia and saw this
as maybe their one chance to see the group in such a special setting!
The merchandising van had only just arrived having been delayed due to
the stormy weather, and a feeding frenzy ensued as the devoted wrestled
to get their hands on the new re-recording of The Snow Goose. "The
concert will begin in five minutes", heralded the announcer. Decision
time; should I get the new CD now or risk it being sold out at
interval? Fortunately a window of opportunity presented itself as a gap
in the crowd opened up between two fans anxious to claim their seats, so the goodies were acquired.
In the auditorium the charged atmosphere was almost palpable. A man next to
Christine and I declared that he felt almost sick with excitement and
anticipation. The lights dimmed and the band took to the stage to a roar
that would have raised the dead! Then.....and then......Andy
Latimer strode out from the wings, guitar held aloft. He was greeted
with a volcanic eruption of acclamation that showed no sign of abating
after several minutes. Seizing a slight drop in the decibel level, he
announced, "We'll, it's been quite while! Thank you. It's good to be
here. At my age, it's good to be anywhere!"
The stage was set, the
signal was given and the band launched into the familiar first notes of
The (re-visited) Snow Goose. Would it simply be an exercise in 'spot the
different notes?' Certainly not! We were treated to a sometimes
comfortably familiar but by no means treading water expanded version
that seemed to take on a new energy as its flight progressed. I am sure
no one would have been surprised if Andy Latimer had levitated during
any of his masterful solos during the piece.
The other members of the
flight crew brought their own special talents into play and surely
exceeded any previous expectations that this would
be a very remarkable performance. Almost before it had begun the flight
was over and the audience had but a short interval time to come to
terms with the reality that they were indeed witnesses to an event that
was so much more than just a gig.
The second set had to be very much a
guessing game of not just what they would play but what they would omit
from what is a huge catalogue of songs. The band opened with Never Let Go from the
debut album, followed by Song Within A Song from Moonmadness. Then we were treated to a selection covering the group's entire career, ending with two songs from the last studio album, these being
the very amusing Fox Hill presented with great humour by Colin Bass and an exquisitely rendered For Today.
Following this collection the band
may have thought it was "Thank you very much and good night", but it
was never going to end like that. Their reception onto the stage over
two hours earlier was itself upstaged by the huge outpouring of love and
joyous acclamation that was released by the audience, and our reward came earlier with Never Let Go that opened the second set, dedicated to the much missed Peter Bardens, and with the final hurrah in the form of an absolutely wonderful Lady Fantasy. Many of the
audience seemed completely overwhelmed by what they had been part of as
they filed out of the auditorium, and the air was heavy with emotion.
"Never give a day away. Always live for today." This had not been
nostalgia in any form, but surely the rebirth of a proud legacy.
The Flight Of The Snow Goose: On board crew - Andy Latimer: electric,
acoustic guitars, flute, lead and backing vocals; Colin Bass: bass, acoustic
guitar, vocals; Denis Clement: drums, bass; Guy LeBlanc: keyboards,
backing vocals; Jason Hart: keyboards, backing vocals.
The Snow Goose
The Great Marsh
Rhayader Goes to Town
The Snow Goose
Flight of the Snow Goose
La Princesse Perdue
The Great Marsh (reprise)
Never Let Go
Song Within a Song
The Hour Candle (A Song for My Father)
Watching the Bobbins
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