What a treat! I haven’t seen these guys in concert for quite a few years - and tonight was the final gig in their 2018 World Tour. I’ve seen only them twice before, live - once in the late 70s at Fairfield Halls, Croydon and more recently, at some point in the 90s (where I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t recall the venue nor who I was with!)
If you don’t know Camel, their genre is very much prog-rock - think Pink Floyd with a bit of Jethro Tull thrown in! They did their fair-share of concept Albums, with their most notable being The Snow Goose, released in 1975. Camel have always focussed on melody, rather than pethaps the more experimental nature of their peers.
They began life on the MCA label back in the early 7Os, moved to Decca not long after, and then, in the early 90s, formed their own label - Camel Productions. In truth, they probably deserve to be better known than they are - especially in the UK!
Camel in the early 70s
Band members come and go - and Camel was no different, enjoying fresh talent on almost every Album.
The original lineup in 1971 consisted of Andrew Latimer (guitar), Andy Ward (drums) and Doug Ferguson (bass) and they later recruited Peter Bardens (keyboards). Their first claim to fame was supporting (the better known) Wishbone Ash Tour in December of that same year.
Andy Latimer is the only member of the original band left, and his talent on the keyboard, flute and (especially the guitar) is the consistency that’s clear in all of their back-catalogue.
For me, they were never great vocalists, but actually (and perhaps ironically) with the changing personalities over the years, behind the mike, they’ve got better. In their defence, they were always musicians first and vocalists
However, all of this Camel-ness nearly ended a few years back when Andy was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. Thankfully, after a major op involving a bone-marrow transfer, he recovered, and surprisingly to fans (me included) a number of Tours followed.
So, back to 2018, and where better, than The Royal Albert Hall, to finish their 31-tour-date affair!
Back to the Gig! As expected, it was (almost) a sell-out affair. We arrived in good time (after a quick bite at a local Pub) and were soon sampling the Ales in the Hall’s Bar!
Doors opened at 6.45 for a planned 7.30 kick-off. The first half (expectedly, given the name of the tour), featured Camel’s 1976 Moonmadness Album in its 39 minute 15 second entirety and was slightly late in starting. However, this made us fans even more appreciative when Andy Latimer (Lead Guitar, Flute and Vocals), Denis Clement (Drums), Colin Bass (Bass and Vocals) and newcomer, Pete Jones (Keyboards, Vocals, Saxophone) took to the Stage.
1. "Aristillus"(Audio only - Band not on stage yet!)
2. "Song Within a Song"
3. "Chord Change"
4. "Spirit of the Water"
5. "Another Night"
6. "Air Born"
7. "Lunar Sea"
The interval followed - and twenty-five minutes later we took our positions for the second half. This set was longer and featured some of their classics, indispersed with some of their more recent stuff…
8. “Uneven Song”
9. “Hymn to Her”
10. “End of the Line”
11. “Coming of Age”
12. “Rajaz” (with a surprise Sax solo by newcomer Pete Jones - a standing ovation followed!)
14. “Mother Road”
15. “Hopeless Anger”
16. “Long Goodbyes”
In order to miss the rush at the end, we decided to leave before the encore…
Events apparently came to an end around 10.15.
All-in-all this had been a superb Concert. Our seat positions meant we got a front-on view of things and were sufficiently up in the Gods not to be deafened. The sound mix was perfect, and Andy Latimer’s guitar work has never sounded better. The vocals (always Camel’s ‘Achilles Heel’) were taken to new levels by Pete Jones - and as a result, this was possibly their finest hour (135 minutes actually!).
We manage to grab a black-cab right outside (a shiny new electric one) and were back at St Pancras, £21 lighter, but in good time. A slow torturous journey followed with our almost deserted ‘timed train’ at 23.08 taking almost twice as long to cover the journey home!
I dropped John back at his and was indoors myself, just after 1am. Wow! What a Concert!!! I shan’t forget this one in a hurry!