Camel Harrogate Royal Hall Oct 19th 2103

Camel Harrogate Royal Hall Oct 19th 2103
CamelTheSnowGooseLast night I renewed my acquaintance with the band Camel, who opened their UK tour with a concert at Harrogate Royal Hall. I saw Camel 5 or 6 times in the 70s, but can’t claim to be a massive fan. The last time I saw them was in 1979 at Newcastle City Hall. Camel guitarist front Andrew Latimer has been battling illness for many years, and for that reason the band have not performed for 10 years. He has regained his health and is taking Camel out on the Road, playing their epic Snow Goose album in full in tribute to his friend and former Camel original member Peter Bardens who died of cancer some years ago, and in celebration of a career spanning more than 40 years. The current line-up of the band is: leader and original member Andrew Latimer (guitar, vocals), long time band member Colin Bass (bass vocals), with Denis Clement (drums), Guy LeBlanc (keyboards) along with keyboardist and special guest Jan Schelhaus. A statement explains: “The evening pays tribute to former band member Peter Bardens, who died of cancer at the same time as frontman Latimer was battling a terminal illness. Ten years later, Latimer has regained health and is willing to celebrate a career that spans over four decades. This two-set show will also embrace compositions recorded throughout those years in a personal covenant of appreciation for a deeply rewarding life of music.”
The entire tour is sold out; the band retains a strong and loyal fan base.
My mate Norm decided to come along for the ride, and we drove down the A19; arriving around 7.30. I went straight into the Royal Hall, which is a beautiful restored old venue, and took my seat in the front row. The band had just taken the stage and were playing their classic Snow Goose album. Norm walked up the road to a local hostelry. I’ve been playing the Snow Goose for the past couple of weeks to familiarise myself with the tracks. This concept album is based on the short story by Gallico, and is classic 70s progressive rock; led by Latimer’s soaring guitar, and with the highs, lows, and intricacies that you would expect of the genre. Purely instrumental it stands as a great example of the period and of orchestral rock. Last night Camel performed the piece perfectly to the delight of the crowd who sat intently throughout, giving the band a tremendous ovation at the end of each section.
cameltix “The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk is a short novella by the American author Paul Gallico. It was first published in 1940 as a short story in The Saturday Evening Post, then he expanded it to create a short novella which was first published on April 7, 1941. The Snow Goose is a simple, short written parable on the regenerative power of friendship and love, set against a backdrop of the horror of war. It documents the growth of a friendship between Philip Rhayader, an artist living a solitary life in an abandoned lighthouse in the marshlands of wartime Essex because of his disabilities, and a young local girl, Fritha. The Snow Goose, symbolic of both Rhayader (Gallico) and the world itself, wounded by gunshot and many miles from home, is found by Fritha and, as the human friendship blossoms, the bird is nursed back to flight, and revisits the lighthouse in its migration for several years, as Fritha grows up. Rhayader and his small sailboat eventually are lost in the British retreat from Dunkirk, having saved several hundred men. The bird, which was with Rhayader, returns briefly to the grown Fritha on the marshes. She interprets this as Rhayader’s soul taking farewell of her (and realizes she had come to love him). Afterwards, a German pilot destroys Rhayader’s lighthouse and all of his work, except for one portrait Fritha saves after his death: a painting of her as Rhayader first saw her—a child, with the wounded snow goose in her arms.” (Wikipedia).
During the interval I popped out and met up with Norm, for a swift drink. In the second half of the show Camel played a selection of tracks from their large back catalogue. I should have invested more time listening to their material before the show, as most of the tracks were unfamiliar to me. Vocals were shared between Colin Bass and Latimer, but it was the latter who shone as the star of the show. His guitar playing was outstanding; I’d forgotten just how good he is. It looked like he was really enjoying himself, and that he couldn’t believe the crowd reaction. The stand out track for me was Mystic Queen from their first eponymous lp. Other tracks played included: Never Let Go, Echoes, Fox Hill (which was quite amusing) and closing song For Today. Encores were: Lady Fantasy and Never Let Go. After the gig I met up with Norm and we drove home, getting back around midnight. It was good to see Camel again. I need to spend some time listening to their early lps, as there are surely some gems therein.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Allan Orrick on October 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Not about Camel, but about The Snow Goose. One of my emotionally favourite films of all time. It was a TV film and starred Richard Harris and Jenny Agutter, and leaves me in tears just thinking about it. It is on youtube in “episodes”.


  2. Posted by vintagerock on October 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks I’ll have to watch it Best wishes Peter


  3. Posted by dawn on October 25, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Have LP stationary traveller not seen them in concert did not know they were still together.


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