Camel – Barbican

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Why this gig?

I was aware of Camel in the mid to late 70s but (even though I was listening to Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes at the time) I never investigated them at all. I know a couple of friends had copies of the The Snow Goose, so I must have heard it then, but I don’t remember it at all.

However, they are certainly one of the top British progressive bands of that era and when they announced that they would playing their best-known album all the way through for the first time for almost forty years I thought it would be worth going to see it.

Support

Nope. This is a two sets from the headline act kind of night.

Headline

Camel’s leader, Andy Latimer, has suffered from a debilitating illness for about twenty years and this has severely limited Camel’s activities. Recently, he has been responding well to treatment and this is apparently what is behind this current tour. It’s certainly behind the standing ovation that Latimer receives as he walks on stage and before he has played a note.

The first set is the Snow Goose album played all the way through. I don’t know the album well enough to comment on how well it was reproduced, but I know I enjoyed hearing it. It’s an instrumental album, so for forty-five minutes or so the obvious talents of the musicians are given a good airing.

The second set is a selection of other Camel songs. I know even less about the rest of their output than I do about The Snow Goose. I don’t even know what their best-known songs are, so I have no idea if they played them.

To be honest, I’m not convinced that a concert is the best place to hear progressive rock for the first time. It’s like classical music in that its complexities can be too much to take in on a first listen. It’s only by listening many times that you start to understand and appreciate the music. I still listen to progressive rock, but pretty much only the aforementioned Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis and I’m not sure that I really want to invest the time required to become familiar with Camel’s back catalogue.

I’m glad that I was at the gig, but really because it’s another classic band that I can tick off in my I-Spy book of British Rock Bands. If they make a habit of touring, I won’t be rushing back to see them again.

The set list is on Setlist.fm.

Reviews

I thought that this might be an important enough show that some of the papers would send reviewers. Apparently I was wrong.

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