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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews


Live at NEARfest, 2002

Review by Stephen Ellis

I had never paid much attention to that "Canterbury" sound so I was very unfamiliar with Caravan. I had been sent a Canterbury sampler prior to NF by a dear friend so I had heard some Caravan and had some idea of what to expect. I was surprised at how much better this style came across live versus from CD's of music recorded 30 years ago.

Dan Robinson
Dan Robinson
WOW! Not that Mr. Hackett was not a headliner, but Caravan ruled and could have easily been the final band of the weekend. Theirs was a soft and gentle sound that seemed to have no rough edges. Clean, clear and bright, it was music that made you want to dance and at the same time sit and listen intently. My wife leaned over to me half way through their set and said, "This is British country music!" That was like hitting the nail on the head - what a perfect description. Laid back, very folk 'sounding' yet full of that almost rockabilly attitude. I liked it a big lot, as did most (if not all) of the crowd. There was so much passion and depth to their music. It was bright and filled with light and sound. The quality of the playing (gotta love a violinist who can hang out with rock & rollers), the depth of the compositions, and the appealing lyrics made them a big success to me.

Stephen Ellis
Stephen Ellis
I have one complaint however. Their live show does not sound like their LPs/CD's. Why? As I mentioned earlier, they come from the Canterbury style and sound of progressive music. In the beginning and through most of their recordings, their sound is filled with organ, some mellotron and other keyboards. At NEARfest the added guitarist, Doug Boyle, as counter point to Geoff Richardson's Viola, changed the entire complexion of this bands sound.

Dan Robinson
Dan Robinson
On that Sunday night these guys totally impressed me, but in listening to the same songs done originally I did not hear one thing that reminded me of their live performance. I only hope that the live recording and DVD they were shooting on that Sunday is true to what we were treated to that night. This is not a condemnation of Caravan in any way. But for this "Caravan virgin" it makes it very difficult for me to find a musical release of theirs that comes close to the wonderful music I heard there.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at

Dan Robinson
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