Saturday, 19 April 2014

Caravan At The Arc

The Arc, Stockton
Prog rock is not exactly my favourite musical genre but I have been known to dabble; gig-wise, at least.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Caravan. I'd heard a good slice of their very early catalogue but had not followed the band's historical progress.

Tristan Mackay started the evening's entertainment with a fine set of bluesy acoustic ballads.
Caravan took to the stage shortly afterwards - a five-man, black-clad group. Pye Hastings, centre stage,  took the vocal duties for the majority of the songs. He is one of the Caravan originals, although three of the others go back a very long way too. Geoffrey Richardson featured on vocals too, but also played virtually everything imaginable: guitar, flute, clarinet, viola, mandolin...even the spoons. Jim Leverton was on bass and Jan Schelhaas on keyboards. Newest member Mark Walker was on the drums, a position he has held for the last three or four years. His youthful energy (''he's our carer'' quipped Geoffrey Richardson) gave him a touch of the Keith Moons at various points.

They played a couple of obligatory crowd-pleasers - namely In Land of Grey and Pink and Golf Girl - early on in the set, followed by the lengthy Nine Feet Underground (in eight parts) later on in the evening.
However, I enjoyed their more recent material much more, especially the songs from the new album, Paradise Filter.  Dead Man Walking, Trust Me I'm a Doctor and the album's title track were particularly good. More rock, less prog.
I enjoyed hearing the anecdotes between the songs. It's good to know where the inspiration for the songwriting process comes from.

Caravan played for two hours without a break. They did very well, as most of their songs feature intrinsic musical arrangements, with all five musicians pulling out all of the stops in unison.
 Despite the extended set, the evening flew by.
Follow the Caravan news and tour dates over at their official website.

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