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5 stars This has been a long time coming, but the wait has been well worth it. I was at this show and it was one of the best - if not THE best - gig I've ever been to. I worried that they wouldn't catch the full atmosphere on film, but after it arrived this morning, my fears were allayed. Don't expect pyrotechnics and a lot of showmanship: Camel settle for just playing their music and letting that do the talking. And what music it is: the whole of the incredible Moonmadness, then a second set which draws heavily on Dust and Dreams, an album I've never really loved. But live, the tracks stand out. Part of the reason for that may be the presence of Pete Jones. The late Guy Leblanc was a very fine musician, but Jones brings vocals and sax to the show alongside his keyboards. Every other band must envy Camel for this brave act of recruitment, because taking a blind keyboardist on board was a gamble, but a gamble that has paid off spectacularly. He adds a new dimension to the band and the current line up is as good as any there's been. His vocals on End Of the Line and lung bursting sax solos are amongst the highlights of the DVD. He also a contributes an amusing introduction to Ice, showing that he's now part of the furniture. But, as ever, it's Andy Latimer who steals the show. For a man who faced death 10 years ago, he's back and playing with a brilliance that is almost unmatched. Sure he can speed round the fretboard as fast as anyone when he chooses, but that's not his style: he prefers to ring every drop of emotion out of the music and he doesn't just play his guitar but lets it almost become part of him. No guitarist has recorded as many wonderful solos and several are here. Andy's voice has always been Marmite to many, but I love his depth and ability to convey emotion, whilst Colin Bass is also a great singer. But when Pete Jones sings, you drop everything to listen: in an earlier life, he sang on X Factor and told Simon Cowell to "shut up", so that deserves respect, but his voice is amazing. The rhythm section is as tight as a camel's behind in a sandstorm and it's obvious they're having a great time and that they're great friends as well as bandmates. I met them before the gig and they are a lovely bunch, Andy Latimer being very funny and self-effacing. So my advice is this: go on to Camel's website and buy a copy of this DVD for every friend you have and give them it for Christmas. They'll love you for it. The fact that my ugly mug is on it should not deter you! Best DVD of the year? No doubt about that: it might be the best of all time, a record of a band still going after 45 years and still on top of their game. Let's hope this isn't their swansong and that they tour again, but if it does turn out to be their final act, it would be a fitting farewell.
Report this review (#2285528)
Posted Thursday, December 5, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars At last! It took the band nearly a year to release this DVD as promised and teased on YouTube, but finally the wait is over! At least for us mortals that live far away from where all the action takes place, a concert film is about the only way in with we will ever see and listen to our favorite bands performing live.

This DVD is almost complementary to the other film Camel released a couple of years before, "Ichigo Ichie", which featured the same lineup. Although some of the tracks are here again, most of the setlist is different. Its main difference being that the classic "Moonmadness" album is performed in its entirety. "Spirit of the Water", "Airborn" , and "Lunar Sea" were on " Ichigo Ichie ", but hearing them within the album context gives them a different, very special feel. The arrangements for the "Moonmadness" tracks are not immensely different from the originals, but since 75% of the band is different from the one who played the original version, it is only logical that there will be some personalized changes to each instrument. The only exception to this is the opening track, "Aristillus" which is the original recording played back as an intro to the concert.

The second half of the setlist consists of other classic tracks, mainly from their 90's repertoire, Andy Latimer's most cherished period it seems. There's two tracks from the "I Can See Your House..." album (not what I expected, but thankfully the best tracks on that release), "Unevensong" from "Rain Dances" and nothing from the debut, "Mirage" or " Snowgoose", except for the obligatory closer. If you want something from those other albums or from their 80's material please visit the other concert releases.

The musicianship here is top notch. Everyone seems to be in perfect shape and absolute control of their respective areas. Andy Latimer is the highlight, of course. There is little evidence to his having been so close to death or at least close to disability. His guitar playing is more emotional than ever, and his modesty moved him to delegate some of the vocal duties to the rest of the band. Colin Bass's lines are solid as always, and his voice doesn't seem to have aged one bit. Denis Clement, always smiling and enjoying himself delivers a strong, steady rhythm beat that, although sometimes slower than the original tempo, keeps a very energetic attitude that permeates to the rest of the band. And last, but certainly not least, Pete Jones, who has been blessed with the physical blindness that is compensated for what appears to be superhuman musical abilities. His excellence at the keyboards is unquestionable, his voice is soothing as it is powerful, and he steals the show with his sax soli on "Rajaz" and "Lady Fantasy", the latter respectfully substituting Pete Bardens's original organ solo.

Camel's concerts have never been known for its visuals, and this one is no exception to that rule, although the sole beauty of the Royal Albert Hall is enough to impress the eye. As always, the highlight is the music, the performance itself. Buy this album. I absolutely recommend it. After careful consideration and attention to PA's review guidelines I must admit it: this one is definitely an essential masterpiece.

Report this review (#2439573)
Posted Thursday, August 20, 2020 | Review Permalink

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