Queen's Hall, Edinburgh (UK), 13 January 2013
Canterbury folk group Caravan performed a set of favourites from their long career at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh…

The rest of the band, explained fiddle player Geoffrey Richardson, had been struck down with an unpleasant lurgy and he was, thus far, the only one to emerge unscathed. He couldn’t resist also cheekily pointing out that this had caused an unmistakable croak to appear in singer Pye Hastings’s vocal, which brought chortles of acknowledgement from the rest of the band and the audience. But no matter, no-one was heading angrily towards the ticket office because the singer was having an off-day – Canterbury folk contingent Caravan were among friends here.

At a few points during the evening they should have been thankful that this was the case, because certain elements of a sound which was at its peak in the late 1960s and early-Seventies – this tour celebrates the 40th anniversary of their enduring if hideously-titled For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night album – have dated notably.

By turns echoing Syd Barrett’s sense of theme park olde English whimsy, Yes’ prog rock overworking of a song and Fairport Convention’s masterful fusion of folk and rock, their style reached its nadir in the lyrics of Golf Girl, mundanely setting a love affair with a tea-selling young woman on the fairways of a Canterbury golf course, and the grumpy spite of new song Fingers in the Till.

Yet for all that, there were many unexpected delights to be found: the title track of their old classic album In the Land of Grey and Pink, the tender subtlety of the violin and organ-led latterday track Nightmare and the more muscular, less interminable segments of epic main set closer Nine Feet Underground.

Honourable mention must also go to Golf Girl for Richardson’s rattling spoon solo at the end – the kind of thing, much like the rest of the show, you just don’t hear these days.

Review by David Pollock *** (Originally published in The Scotsman)