Gig review: CAMEL – Parr Hall, Warrington, 13 March 2014

Andy Latimer talks about the second leg of the UK tour.  An edited version of this interview – which featured in a two-part special on our radio station – is now available as a podcast

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Camel - Parr Hall, Warrington, 13 March 2014

If we had no right to expect a two-hour show last October, we certainly didn’t expect a second helping as Camel continued their recent renaissance with a handful of additional dates.

And if last year’s tour was tinged with a certain poignancy as Andy Latimer returned to his rightful position as premier axeman and prog trailblazer, this leg of the proceedings was tinged with sadness that Guy LeBlanc was absent due to illness.

In his place, and in his own way adding a certain historical gravitas, Ton Scherpenzeel who played in the mid-eighties line up of the band and originally made his name with legendary Dutch progsters Kayak.

Scherpenzeel’s late deputy duties did mean that the set list would remain pretty much intact from last October.  But, that isn’t really a problem.  I have to say – like much of the audience – I might not have fully relaxed during that last gig.  I mean, from the moment Latimer walked on stage to a hero’s welcome we were literally hanging on to his every note hoping that the last decade had been kind to his creative muse and, not least, his stellar guitar playing.

Camel - Parr Hall, Warrington, 13 March 2014

This time round I am sure Andy was more relaxed in himself and there was an opportunity – repeat play or no – for the audience to luxuriate again in music we have been starved of for far too long, at least in the live situation.

‘The Snow Goose’ has been deftly nipped and tucked for contemporary ears and still holds up as the band’s piece de resistance whilst the sprinkling of tracks from across the years evidenced the superb musical interplay and not least that wonderful guitar.  Two and a quarter hours seemed to rush past.

When I chatted to Andy for our Guitarists radio special recently he didn’t surprise me when citing Jan Akkerman as an early influence.   Focus also trailblazed largely instrumental music in the early seventies and in some respects opened up the US market for bands like Camel.

Camel - Parr Hall, Warrington, 13 March 2014

If there are similarities it is in the fluency and the story-telling nature of guitar playing.  Typically, Latimer works up a theme, pulls in the listener, and then steers things to a satisfying conclusion.  For me, he is one of the very few players who is a genuine master of this ability to really connect – emotionally – with the listener and take them on a journey.  And all this against the sumptuous back-drop of two fine keyboard players (Scherpenzeel and Jason Hart) and a wonderfully tight rhythm section (Colin Bass and the propulsive and versatile Denis Clement).

In an evening of sumptuousness, ‘Echoes’ and ‘The Hour Candle’ demand special mention along with the funky and folksy ‘Watching The Bobbins’.  And if ‘Fox Hill’ treads Genesis/whimsical prog territory, serious genre watchers would have relished the final flourish of ‘Lady Fantasy’.  A great band, and get well soon, Guy.

Setlist: Part 1: The Snow Goose Part 2:  Never Let Go/ Song Within A Song/ Echoes/
The Hour Candle (A Song For My Father)/ Watching The Bobbins/ Fox Hill/ For Today/ Encore: Lady Fantasy

Review and photos by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Gig review (October 2013)


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