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Caravan: 35th Anniversary Concert (DVD)

There's nothing like seeing aging rockers up on stage having the time of their lives and making solid music that still sounds fresh 35 years after it was initially recorded. And that's why this limited-edition two-DVD set from Caravan, one of England's great (yet unheralded) Canterbury-based progressive-rock bands, is such a joy to watch. Recorded on June 30, 2003, at London's Bloomsbury Theatre, the two-hour-and-15-minute performance features many core members and covers the band's entire career from "Place of My Own" to new songs that would appear on 2004's The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (whose title track was apparently inspired by a run-in with a hotel waitress during the band's stay in Trenton, N.J., for 2002's NEARFest).

The years have been kind to vocalist/guitarist Pye Hastings who looks a lot like Bill Clinton these days along with drummer Richard Coughlan, keyboardist Jan Schelhaas, lead guitarist Doug Boyle, bassist Jim Leverton and multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson. They all look healthy, although the sweet-voiced Hastings has a little trouble on some of the high notes, and he needs sheet music during the three-song acoustic set a Caravan first. And I'm still not sure why Coughlan opted to wear slippers and pajamas on stage. But once these English gentlemen get into a groove, there seems to be no stopping them. In fact, only 18 songs are squeezed in approximately 135 minutes, with pieces like "Nine Feet Underground" pushing 20 minutes in length. Coughlan handles most of the between-song banter when he's not absorbed playing the flute, electric violin, spoons and garden shears. (Yes, garden shears.) A black backdrop and minimal lighting put the emphasis where it should be: On these exemplary musicians and the fine tunes full of melody and passion that they can still play with authority and finesse. No wonder Hastings admits in a 24-minute interview segment that he thinks Caravan had more energy and enjoyed themselves more in 2003 than they had in years. It certainly shows. (For a peek at -- or a friendly reminder of -- what Caravan looked like back in the day, the second DVD in this set also includes a promotional video for "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again," filmed in 1973.)

Track Listing:
1) The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again
2) Why Why Why (And I Wish I Were Stoned)
3) Golf Girl
4) Nine Feet Underground
5) Hello Hello
6) Head Above the Clouds
7) Revenge
8) Nightmare
9) Smoking Gun
10) The Unauthorised Breakfast Item
11) Backwards
12) A Hunting We Shall Go
13) For Richard
14) Memory Lain Hugh/Headloss
15) If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You

Acoustic Set:
1) Place of My Own
2) Love Song With Flute
3) Chance of a Lifetime

Added: March 14th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Caravan Web Site
Hits: 3919
Language: english

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