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Camel - In From The Cold CD (album) cover

IN FROM THE COLD

Camel

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars So I stopped by Prog Archives to see how people were reacting to Camel's latest DVD release, and I was surprised to find no reviews yet. I had no intention of writing a review myself since I can hardly be viewed as unbiased. As director/editor of the project (this is my 8th DVD project for Camel Productions) I won't address the directing or editing quality as that would be, well, kind of silly of me. I will say that 8 cameras were used, the lighting by the stage crew was brilliant, and the audio mix by Andy and Denis was spot on. What I can truly be objective about is the music since I had nothing to do with it, and having watched this now at least a hundred times during post production, all I can say is, wow! It is truly amazing and inspiring to see and hear Andy at the top of his game after the events of recent years.

Set 1 consists of the newly revamped Snow Goose in its entirety while set 2 consists of some of Camel's best epic compositions, many of which serve to showcase Andy's trademark lead work (Hour Candle, Watching the Bobbins, For Today). Camel has always been a bit more powerful live than on record and this performance reinforces that point. The dual keyboards of Guy LeBlanc (Nathan Mahl) and Jason Hart (Renaissance) combine to form a symphonic sound of staggering proportions, while Denis Clement's drumming (Never Let Go, Lady Fantasy) is some of the most aggressive ever to grace the Camel stage. Highlights include the gorgeous Tell Me (where drummer Denis plays fretless bass no less!!), the prog-epics Echoes and Foxhill, and of course the Snow Goose suite.

The question is... is this Camel's best DVD to date?

The answer from my unbiased perspective, easily.

Report this review (#1175554)
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, there's no deluxe package or something very elaborated. The cover art is a very strange horizontal design, no info about the audio or video formats. The menu is static, very simplist way.

The technical aspects:

Video 16:9 widescreen video with excelent definition quality and good bitrate. The audio options is only one: AC3 Stereo Dolby Digital at 384kbps. No lossless audio or 5.1 mix. A real shame

The Stereo mix is very well done and mastering too. But there's a glitch, that the whole sound is like almost a semitone (maybe microtones) low than the original sound performed by the band. A technical issue for sure, not the way that the band played. This think bother me a lot, but some people don't care.

Filming: Very good cameras, nice image quality. GoPRO cams planted on the Denis and Guy kits. This small cameras naturally provides "worse" quality than the others, but don't bother. Takes could be better in some occasions, as not to cut to another band member when it is soloing. But overall, satisfy.

Performance:

Impecable performance, with very passionate guitar play by Andy and the band.

Very nice organic sound organ and piano by the Guy Leblanc on the Nord Stage 2, a Korg Analog Synthesizer that reproduces perfectly the Mini Moog sound used by Pete Bardens and the competent Korg M50 for another infinite sounds palette. Guy plays with accuracy, respects the original arrangements and textures and adds the own flavor when possible.

Jason Hart with superb suppporting armed with powerfull Roland's Midi Controler and Rack and an Yamaha Workstation Synthesizer. Very important for the Snow Goose orchestral arrangements.

Andy plays also some notes on the very outdated Roland D-70, but amazingly dont' compromise the quality.

Denis Clement play with force and excitement the small Pearl kit and maybe he is the most nice drummer after the departure of Andy Ward.

Colin Bass is very competent but your Wal Pro bass dont's show properly the tight and precise sound of the notes. The MTD bass used for the 2014 sounds a lot better.

Andy continues playing soulfully, with all musical sensibility linked to emotion.

A very good DVD if you don't care about the little "pitch glitch" sound issue that i mentioned above.

Report this review (#1176426)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Song within a song

I ordered this brand new Camel live concert DVD directly from the band (camelproductions.com) and was amazed when my copy arrived that it had been signed by Andy Latimer at no extra cost! And not enough with that, they had thrown in a free sticker as well. (Last time I ordered from Camel Productions, they gave me a free sticker and a post card!) It is not the cheapest nor the fastest service on the planet, but they sure care about their fans.

Seeing this concert film (recorded in London in October 2013), one is strongly reminded of how incredible it is that Andy has recovered from the illness that almost took his life. I think that few people expected to ever see him on a stage again. But here he is and he's looking well again, and playing well. The other mainstay is Colin Bass who has been playing with the band since 1979. Guy LeBlanc (keyboards) and Denis Clement (drums) have been with them since 2000. For this tour they were joined also by a second keyboard player in Jason Hart.

The set list consists of the Snow Goose album performed in its entirety, plus a second set of other songs. Camel are certainly no strangers to performing full albums live as they have done so on numerous occasions (Snow Goose in the 1970's, Dust And Dreams and Harbour Of Tears in the 90's). I must admit that the Snow Goose album is actually my least favourite Camel album from their classic era. The version performed here includes the "revisions" that were featured on the re-recorded studio version released last year (to warm people up for this tour). (Personally, I prefer the re-recorded 2013 version over the original 1975 album.) The performance here is very good.

Since the first set is obviously entirely instrumental, the second set focuses on vocal numbers. The second set features a further nine songs, one each taken from the self-titled debut, Mirage, Moonmadness, Rain Dances, and Breathless, and two each from Harbour Of Tears and A Nod And A Wink. All of these songs are excellent, but most of them have been played live before and already featured on other recent live albums and videos. For Today was included on the band's previous live DVD The Opening Farewell released in 2010; The Hour Candle and Watching The Bobbins were included on the 1998 live concert DVD and album Coming Of Age; the classic Never Let Go was included on the 1993 live album of the same name (in the arrangement appearing here); Echoes and Lady Fantasy were included both on the latter live album and on The Opening Farewell. Don't get me wrong, I love all of these songs, but it would have been more interesting to hear more songs that they don't play often or at least songs that wasn't included on their most recent live releases. The rarest--and therefore most interesting--songs they play here are Song Within A Song, Tell Me, and Fox Hill. The latter two are sung very well by Colin Bass.

But even though I would like to have seen some more rarities, old and new, in the set list, the performance featured on In From The Cold is a thoroughly enjoyable experience all the way and does not disappoint. Personally I think that Coming Of Age is Camel's best live DVD, but this one is an excellent addition to any Camel fan's collection (together with The Opening Farewell). Now I'm only waiting for an archival live release from the Rajaz tour!

Report this review (#1203575)
Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Camel - In from the Cold DVD (2014)

I saw a gig of this tour in Groningen and I must say it was one of the best rockconcerts I ever saw, right up with Magma and Iron Maiden (in 2004). I've been playing the electric guitar for 12 years now, but that evening forced me to rethink what a guitar actually is. The band received a warmest of welcomes by the Dutch crowd and every note played was just perfect.

Watching this dvd I must admit I was at first a bit dissapointed. Andy Latimer is bit sick and has troubles with his vocals, moreover his playing on the first set is way less accurate then what I witnessed live. But arrangements for a dvd recording can't easily be changed I guess. The mixing of 'The last Farewell' had given the band a heavier feel with more bass and drums, this dvd sound milder - more like the 'Coming of Age' dvd.

Having said that, the dvd is still very good! The first set is an integral version of The Snow Goose with some minor rearrangements, the second set is a walk through the extensive carrere of the band. Tracks like 'Song within a Song', 'Echoes' (a brilliant track that got lost on the otherwise mediocre Breathless album), 'Watching the Bobbins' (this track sounded sooo good live!) and 'Lady Fantasy' are great to hear. The photography fits the music, easy going and focussed on the musicians that take the lead.

Conclusion. A great dvd for fans of the band, but like 'The Opening Farewell' is doesn't come without its defects.To be honest, I think theis recent reincarnation of the band still deserves its definite live footage. Still, what band of the classic prog era can produce anything better? I though so.Three and a halve stars for this one. I will most certainly go and see them again if possible.

Report this review (#1274228)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | Review Permalink

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