Walking into the grand and evocative confines of the St John the Evangelist church, I’m struck with nervousness at the sight of the neatly arrayed chairs that line the room. My immediate thoughts towards the upcoming performance are of dread; am I about to see one of my favourite old prog bands reduced to a pitiful nostalgia tour, as mere fragments of
their former selves? Thankfully, Caravan don’t disappoint.
Tonight’s lineup, although not completely original, features many familiar faces from the world of prog, including ex-Camel keyboard player Jan Schelhaas, and all importantly, Caravan founding member and creative mastermind Pye
Hastings. Hastings acts as lead vocalist and guitarist throughout the gig, but despite this, multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson is the one who actually fronts the band, engaging in entertaining banter with the crowd as he switches deftly between flute, violin, guitar and even spoons.
The band run through a treasure trove of old favourites, mostly derived from classic albums ‘In the Land of Grey and Pink’ and ‘For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night’, but also including a cover of a track by their old Canterbury scene partners in crime, Soft Machine. They even include a smattering of newer, less familiar material, which is very well received. Each song is a glorious, progressive soundscape of epic proportions, and frankly, it’s a complete pleasure just to see such an accomplished group of musicians jamming around the fantastic songs that have earned Caravan
their place in the annals of rock history.
For a young rocker like myself, everything feels more than a little tame; the volume levels are
kept at a disappointingly sensible level and the seating prevents anyone from really jumping up and enjoying things, but, in all fairness, this kind of atmosphere probably suits tonight’s crowd, most of whom I am ashamed to admit are probably older than my dad.
Regardless of such minor niggles, Caravan still know how to put on a really fantastic show.