Caravan (December 2003)

Date of Performance: December 14, 2003
Venue: Spirit of '66, Verviers, BE

Caravan Live

Caravan live - Pye Hastings w/Jan Schelhaas, Spririt of '66 on Dec 14, 2003 (photo: John Bollenberg)When I looked into my archives, I found an original poster for the Luit festival in Oostende, Belgium as held in August 1977. On Saturday 20th August we got High Life, Tjens Couter (including Arno) and Kayak. On Sunday the bands were Water, Livin Blues, Ultravox and Caravan. I know I attended this festival and I know that the band Water played in the pissing rain. In fact, they played behind a huge plastic sheet which was to prevent the rain from pouring over the band's equipment. I also remember that Ultravox did not play because this was 1977 and Ultravox was still very much of a punk band rather than the polished Midge Ure band we all know from their worldwide hit "Vienna." Caravan live - Richard Coughlan, Spririt of '66 on Dec 14, 2003 (photo: John Bollenberg)The day prior to the festival these punkers had been in a fight and half of the band was taken into casualty [hospital]. What I do not remember at all is having seen Caravan. In fact I think they didn't show up at all, which is why I was so pleased to see these living legends at last a good 26 years later!

Living legends indeed, as although Caravan might not be as popular as contemporaries such as Camel or Genesis they have been going strong for no fewer than 35 years. Still led by the distinctive voice of Pye Hastings and with Richard Coughlan on drums and Geoffrey Richardson on viola and flute, Caravan this time enlisted Jan Schelhaas on keyboards and the young guitarist Doug Boyle. In fact, what you got on stage was the complete line-up that recently recorded the album The Unauthorised Breakfast Item. A career of 35 years certainly contains a lot of material to choose from and I must say I thought the setlist was absolutely brilliant, containing a superb selection of Caravan "classics" augmented with some stuff from the new album. Caravan live - Jan Schelhaas, Spririt of '66 on Dec 14, 2003 (photo: John Bollenberg)Maybe for those who regularly go and see a Caravan concert, some of the tracks crop up all the time; but in my situation, hearing "The Dog The Dog He's At It Gain," "9 Feet Underground," "For Richard" and probably my all-time favourite "Golf Girl" performed live was a wonderful experience. In fact a lot of the band's seventies material was performed with a decent selection coming from albums such as For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night, In The Land Of Grey And Pink and Caravan live - Doug Boyle, Spririt of '66 on Dec 14, 2003 (photo: John Bollenberg)If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You. Maybe to please Jan Schelhaas they performed "Nightmare" from the 1977 album Better By Far which did also include the keyboard skills of Jan. To be honest with you, every single musician was a joy to hear, and although from a visual aspect there might be little to look forward to, the music really is all that matters. Jan Schelhaas delivered those distinctive sounds combined with Richardson's viola or flute or penny whistle. Unique most certainly was Geoffrey's solo on electric spoons whilst towards the end he enjoyed several duels between his viola and Doug Boyle's guitar. Boyle, having played for Robert Plant and Nigel Kennedy, most certainly is a welcome dose of energy that probably puts enough fuel into this band to go on for an extra 35 years.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Leverton's vocals during "9 Feet Underground," delivering a wonderful, slightly bluesy voice. Pity he had to stand way in the back as he most certainly is a very valuable asset within the line-up of Caravan. Let us surely not forget the driving force of Richard Coughlan who seems to deliver the kind of drum approach that remains interesting yet inconspicious. Caravan live - Jim Leverton, Spririt of '66 on Dec 14, 2003 (photo: John Bollenberg)From the faces of each single bandmember you could read the enjoyment, and although they might have played some of this stuff hundreds, maybe thousands, of times, they enjoyed themselves enormously, leaving enough space to improvise. Boyle puts his true soul into his playing also delivering some slide guitar. Schelhaas' solos are to the point and contain the heart of the Canterbury scene. For one night only Canterbury was situated in Belgium!

Caravan live - Geoffrey Richardson, Spririt of '66 on Dec 14, 2003 (photo: John Bollenberg)The end of the set was most certainly a highlight by means of "Backwards" and the almost immortal "For Richard." Caravan supplied two encores, one being "Memory Lain, Hugh Headloss," the other "Who Do You Think You Are." Although having played here before, the band was kind of surprised to be called on stage again to perform yet another encore. Surprised, they finished their ravishing set with "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You." Caravan has found its second breath and is most certainly ready to conquer the world ... again, yet this time fully aware of what's happening around them. For sure a little piece of music history so whenever you get a chance to see them in the future don't hesitate and book those tickets!


This Time
It's Not Real
The Dog, The Dog He's At It Again
Why Why Why
Golf Girl
9 Feet Underground
Head Above The Clouds
Smoking Gun
The Unauthorised Breakfast Item
For Richard

Encore 1:

Memory Lain, Hugh Headloss
Who Do You Think You Are

Encore 2:

If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You

Links: Camel, Genesis

photos © John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Added: December 23rd 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english

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