Summer Ends Festival, Lydney Town Hall, Lydney (UK), 9 october 2011
The all-British Summer's End Sunday ended with the highly anticipated appearance by Caravan who strolled on stage to a rapturous reception with a very relaxed air, all dressed in black and looking quite sharp!
Despite the grey hairs they are clearly still in the pink (ouch!) and when they commenced with the double whammy of Memory Lain, Hugh and Headloss from For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night the still large crowd were enthralled and hanging on every note.
Recent addition Mark Walker brought a more youthful element to the drum stool and drove the band along nicely, sad though it was that original drummer Richard Coughlan's poor health has made it unfeasible for him to continue with the band.
Mainman Pye Hastings was in fine voice during a set that featured a great mix of classic Caravan with a couple of more recent numbers thrown in. As well as filling out the band's sound with his wonderful viola and flute Geoff Richardson did most of the announcements and between song chat with a good line in wit, particularly when relating the tale of the ubiquitous unauthorised breakfast item.
Long-time Caravan associate and ex-Camel keyboardist Jan Schelhaas provided some lovely jazzy touches and flourishes in his tasteful and understated style while Jim Leverton nailed down the bass, adding additional vocals when necessary. The playing was spot on and the material the perfect way to end such a fantastic weekend of music; quirky, idiosyncratic and wonderfully evocative.
The selections included a good chunk of In the Land of Grey and Pink as it celebrates its fortieth (how many?) birthday and the high point of the set was a superb rendition of Nine Feet Underground. There is more to this band than simply living off past glories but the nostalgia instilled by their set was palpable and when I looked around the hall there were smiling faces everywhere, the whimsical Caravan sound leaving myself and seemingly many others feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Encores? You betcha, with everyone calling for more they had no choice and were called back twice giving us I'm On My Way and Love To Love You before disappearing for good. I managed to snaffle up Geoff's (inaccurate) set list at the end of the show; it's so reassuring to see the side notes regarding his choice of instrument for each song in turn, particularly Golf Girl - you just don't see "viola / spoons" on set lists often enough!
This was a nostalgic and easy going way to wrap things up and getting a legendary band of this quality and with such a history was a real coup for festival organisers Huw and Stephen. Only the night before Caravan had sold out London's Shepherds Bush Empire and here they were playing a hall in a little town on the banks of the River Severn - we were not worthy.
Memory lain Hugh
Why Why Why
The Unauthorised Breakfast Item
The Dog The Dog He's At It Again
Fingers In The Till
It's Not Real
In The Land Of Grey and Pink
Nine Feet Underground
I'm On My Way
Love To Love You