Camel @ Barbican Centre, London (UK)

CAMEL

Date: 28th October, 2013
Venue: Barbican Centre
Ticket: ₤25 - 35 ($40 - 56)
Promoter: n/a


When a very good friend of mine texted me in the middle of a Friday night last March, saying that CAMEL would tour UK, amongst some other places, my enthusiasm was so high that I literally spent the rest of that night checking on the web old and new stories about them and listening to their music with the same passion when I was firstly introduced to them back in my teenage years. Needless to say, within minutes I had already grabbed tickets to see them at Barbican in London, on October 28th.

Andy Latimer, the undisputed leader of the band, had been through some nasty health issues and over the last 10 years had to be kept pretty quiet. Knowing that somehow he had managed to recover, there was always a hope of seeing them playing live once again. The expectations were really high and climaxed when CAMEL announced that they would perform the 1975's "The Snow Goose" in its entity. The instrumental masterpiece based on the Paul Gallico's novella, "Snow Goose", has been one of the most prominent works of the group and the last time that it was performed as a whole was back on 17th of October, 1975 at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Reaching Barbican means that you have to walk through a very urban part of central London. It is not necessarily an ugly one to be quite fair, but one that comes to total contradiction to what CAMEL’s music is linked to. There are no fairies, no dwarves or hobbits and above all is pretty much impossible to discover "Lady Fantasy" over there but on the other hand the picture of Barbican Centre and even more the entrance to the main venue is an experience that is worth the walk; a very imposing place, which somehow manages at the end to transmit a warmth that most of its futuristic counterparts fail to do.

Amongst the fans you could easily distinguish that a significant portion of them had traveled a long way to see the band playing after so many years. I managed to detect people from all over Europe but also from places as far as Japan or Latin America. And this should come as no surprise bearing in mind that CAMEL have a core of very loyal fans, who define their musical taste through Andy Latimer's and CAMEL's musical creations.

Camel @ Barbican Centre, London (UK) (photo by Giorgos Filinis)

Exactly at 8pm, the first notes of "Great Marsh" were taking us to the dream worlds of "The Snow Goose". The emotion and the thrill were so intense that you could sense in the air the crowd's mute satisfaction and spiritual pleasure of being part of something that you don't come across everyday. No it is not an exaggeration because two weeks later and while writing this live report the memories send just the same shivers down my spine and I wish every live gig I’ll attend to bring me such intense feelings. Every band member was executing his parts in such precise subtlety that literally there was not any single wasted note! Colin Bass a solid band member since 1979 and a very capable bass player would interact wonderfully with Denis Clement on the drums - the latter especially on the intensive heavy drum parts was amazing- and along with Guy Le Blanc and Jason Hart - both behind the keyboards kits - would provide the perfect template for Andy to perform his immortal guitar melodies.

There was just a 10-15 mins break as soon as "Snow Goose" was completed and after the necessary breathers the band was back playing a second set consisting of some of their most nicer works - they are so many, that would really need an 8 hours show to genuinely please the eager fan. "Never Let Go" from their first self-titled album opened the second set followed by "Song Within A Song" from the epic "Moonmadness" which kept the musical orgasm up high! When Guy Le Blanc hit the first notes of "Lady Fantasy" on his keyboards the magic on the air had definitely transformed everyone of us, who by good luck happened to be there that night. What an amazing finish for an amazing gig!

Well, CAMEL as far as I understand plan to release that night in a DVD which I think it would do justice to this review and would allow everybody to become a part of that mystagogy that unfolded that night. As my friend Sophie said “CAMEL is the only band I could listen to just before going asleep”. Well, what I would say is that they can provide the perfect journey to a dream world while awaken!

God bless the gentlest figure in the history of Prog Rock, Andy Latimer himself, and the mighty CAMEL!!!

CAMEL setlist:

“The Snow Goose” album:

01. “The Great Marsh”
02. “Rhayader”
03. “Rhayader Goes To Town”
04. “Sanctuary”
05. “Fritha”
06. “The Snow Goose”
07. “Friendship”
08. “Migration”
09. “Rhayader Alone”
10. “Flight Of The Snow Goose”
11. “Preparation”
12. “Dunkirk”
13. “Epitaph”
14. “Fritha Alone”
15. “La Princesse Perdue”
16. “The Great Marsh” (reprise)

Second set:

17. “Never Let Go”
18. “Song Within A Song”
19. “Echoes”
20. “The Hour Candle (A Song For My Father)”
21. “Tell Me”
22. “Watching The Bobbins”
23. “Fox Hill”
24. “For Today”
25. “Lady Fantasy”