Album review: CAMEL – Live At The Royal Albert Hall (CD/DVD/Bluray)

CAMEL - Live At the Royal Albert Hall (CD/DVD/Bluray) [Release date 18.11.19]  DVD/Bluray

It seems ages since Camel played a special gig at the Royal Albert Hall as the climax of their ‘Moonmadness’ outing in September 2018.  It marked a return to the hallowed portals after a gap of some 43 years when they performed and recorded ‘The Snow Goose’ with orchestra.

This DVD/Bluray production was not without its challenges, with reports of mastering issues and, moreover, problems with a film crew who dropped out shortly before the gig which meant that some of the reserved production seating had been given away and apparently some camera angles compromised.

In truth, you wouldn’t have been aware of these trials and tribulations. The sound (and vision) is excellent and it stands as a great record of the band’s more recent renaissance.

We never thought back in 2013, when the reconstituted band toured in the UK, they would return the following year and then again in 2018.  But return they did, most recently choosing to play their 1976 album in its entirety (as Set One) and a sprinkling of “classics” in Set Two (with three songs from 1991′s ‘Dust And Dreams’).

There are no band or fan interviews or any such padding, just great music superbly executed and a real tribute in particular to Andy Latimer’s staying power.  The strap on his wrist speaks volumes.  This was no easy undertaking.

Camel belong to a bygone age of sumptuous, absorbing, highly melodic music and always characterised by virtuoso performances.  Latimer’s guitar playing is quite simply superb, beautifully intonated and always taking the listener on a journey.  You can simply lose yourself in the excursion.

He excels especially during the rolling set-pieces such as ‘Another Night’ and ‘Lunar Sea’ (from ‘Moonmadness’).  But it’s in Set Two when he really comes alive with a spellbinding ‘Ice’.  You’ll have a job preventing  your neck hair from bristling during this one.   There’s  also a particularly impressive version of ‘End Of The Line’ with Peter Jones taking vocals and a lovely groove contrasting with the slightly more sedate album version.

And let’s not overlook the sterling performances from drummer Denis Clement, bassist/vocalist Colin Bass and Jones who really shines on keyboards, vocals and sax.

This is a very creditable addition to the band’s filmed history and a great souvenir for those who witnessed the last tour.  A 2-CD version is in the pipeline.  Let’s hope the band hit the road again soon, and maybe this time with some new material.  ****

Review by David Randall

Gig review (Manchester, September 2018)

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