Caravan, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

4.00

 

"It's surprising how physical those spoons were," Geoff Richardson confesses after his feverish spoon-playing on the giddy "Golf Girl", a song about affairs of the heart on a Canterbury golf course.

Caravan, who were at the gentle heart of the "Canterbury Scene" in the early 1970s along with Soft Machine, have always been underappreciated and difficult to place, and there are dollops of funk, jazz, classical and rock-opera in this assured, frankly quite groovy experience.

The unsung prog-rockers have shed members, six bassists thus far, like Roman Abramovich dismisses managers since their formation in 1968. However, one element remains constant, Caravan's 65-year-old lead vocalist Pye (real name Julian) Hastings, who looks like David Cameron might resemble in 20 years time. Conservative.

Hastings's studiously polite quintet - which includes Richardson (Caravan’s excellent viola player and flautist since 1972), Jan Schelhaas (keyboards), Jim Leverton (bass) and Mark Walker (drums) - are here to mark the 40th anniversary of one of their finest records, the unfortunately titled For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night.

The folky, experimental album from 1973 includes ripe tracks such as "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again", which kicks off with "Lonely girl, would you like a sweet to eat?/ I've got something that I'd a like you to hold". Richardson, the voice of the band tonight (Hastings doesn't engage), maintains that the track "is probably quite controversial now, but it was meant to be quite sweet." The sound is sumptuous, the lyrics best ignored.

Their devotees (one of their biggest is snooker great Steve “Interesting” Davis) are out in force tonight; some are even energetically tapping their knees. In fact, there's a restrained, low-level excitement for the start of Caravan's first proper UK tour for at least a decade. It's just a shame the influential bassist John Perry who energised and sang beautifully on Girls Who Grow Plump... is absent from this performance.

"Memory Lain Hugh" kicks off the concert nicely, followed by the funkier "Headloss" and the sublime "In the Land of Grey and Pink". The three numbers set the tone: sprawling, pastoral tracks accompanied by Hastings's measured, choir-boy vocals. There are lulls - in prog-rock there are always lulls - and an insistence on new and newer tracks but exquisitely crafted tunes such as "Golf Girl" (from 1971's In the Land of the Grey and Pink) and "Nine Feet Underground" (from Girls Who Grow Plump...) make up for the pockets of self-indulgence. This fortysomething prog-rock vehicle is still in decent nick...

 

Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week