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May 13 2003 at On Air West, Shibuya, Tokyo

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"Caravan marches on the highway of rock"

It's hard to believe it's been 35 years since Caravan started in the little town of Canterbury. Since the birth of rock music in th elate 60's this band has been in the inner circle of the history of the genre, creating new styles and presenting revolutionary ideas. A young man who used to listen to the band 35 years ago may be an old man now, but the music survives as contemporary as ever, as eloquently proven in tonight's show. Pye Hasting, the leader/main composer celebrated is 57, which is hard to believe looking and hearing him, and other band members are roughly on the par with him both with regards to the age and the vigour in the sound they make.How many people around you in their late 50's can rock so hard to bring the whole house down? Not many, I'd think, but then again, seeing is believing, and so is hearing.

This time the band is joined by Jan Schelhaas, who contributed in defining the sound of Caravan in the 80's. His style, as heard on albums such as "Blind Dog at St. Dunstans", was regarded characteristically more fusionistic in contrast to the blues-based Hammond tones of Dave Sinclair, but at the performance tonight his multi-faceted talent in creating right tone for the right time became evident as he played bluesy lines with blues and flashy solos with flash. The band as a whole was in very good shape, by comparison to the USA show at NEARfest last yeariDVD"A Night's Tale: Live in America"j and the Tokyo shows prior to that.

The show started with catchy songs from "Blind Dog at St. Dunstans": "All the way" and "A very smelly, grubby little oik". hasting's high pitch vocals sounded just as good as heard on calassic live albums such as "Caravan and the New Symphonia" or recently released archive recordings form the 70's. When Doug Boyle joined the band some argued that his guitar style with a slight touch of heavy-metal-ish flashiness, din't quite fit in the band which is known for delicate orchestration of the instruments. Nevertheless in this show he was a tight fit and played brilliantly enhancing the classic songs with enticing solos and precise augmentations that resulted in the tightness and the heaviness of the overall band sound. Between Hasting and Boyle there was an excellent combination work as if they have been playing for decades.

The third song on the roster is "Liar" from "The Battle of Hastings", which still remains as the latest studio recording, a pop tune with a twist. The next song is "The dog, the dog, he's at it again" featured Jan Schelhaas' scorching keyboard solos in synthesized Hammond tone. When Geoffrey Richardson's trademark viola was played with electric piano filling in, the show is already climaxing at the fourth song. However the true climax had to wait untill the next song was played. When Richardson introduced the song, the high roof of On Air West was lifted by the cheer of the enthusiastic audience. "Nine feet underground" started with Shchelhaas' organ, which goes on presenting many colorful passages,makin a good contrast to the rather monotonous somber tonality of the original recording by Dave Sinclair on the Hammond. When the soloing culminated to the theme melody and joined by heavy riffs of Boyle's guitar, then Hasting's vocals the intoxicated audience was making random waves to the ever-changing rhythm and melodies. The music moves on to soloing exchange between Schelhaas and Boyle which was as if actors exchanging lines in a play, each asking question and giving answer that lead to another question. When Richardson took over the soloing section with his elegant Viola, it was as if the rock concert was turned into classical recital, but before long it is again taken over by rocking rhythm.
Now that's definitely the charm of the Cantebury band. The vocal section to follow was sang by Jim Leverton in deep bluesy voice which gave another contour to the music, in contrast to the orginal recording done by Rihard Sinclair. Through tasty guitar solos and vocals the suite moved into to the jamming section that was nothing short of being spectacular. The cheering after the song was a remarkably loud and long one, and it was most deserving for such enthusiastic performance.

Pye Hastings (G,Vo) @ Jan Schelhaas(Key)
Doug Boyle (Lead Gtr)@ Geoffrey Richardson (Vi, Fl, Spoons)
E Jim Leverton (B, Vo)

A couple of new songs were presented, to be included in the new studio album due release later this year, "The unauthorized breakfast item". "Tell me why" started with Hasting's vocals over easy going melody which is most characteristic of the band, which continues into nice 4 beat pop with Richardson's flute in ostinato. The flute continues into "Revenge". As the title suggests, the opening section this song has en edge that is not so likely to be found with this band. However as the vocals come in, with the nice melody line, ths one can be called quite representative of the band's style: nice melody that can be immediately hummed along, cool harmony and virtuoso instrumentation. Richardson's Viola especially, it was as if it was radiating on blue flame around.

"Nightmare" started with duet between the Viola and the Guitar. The viola solo was played in pizzicato that shifts to masterfully bowing. It must have been one of the best solos he performed in the past couple of years. The way of Richardson's soloing may have something to do with the reason why Caravan's music stands out in the genre of Progressive Rock:
The music this band plays is very much fun, while there are prog subgenres that are typically dark, somber and introspective. This tune was performed full of vigor and sense of humor. There was wailing guitar solo also, and the unison between the Viola and the Guitar in the ending section was quite something.

Another acouple of new songs were presented at this point. "Smoking gun"was led off by tribal drumming by Richard Coughlan and turns into a nice medium tempo pop ot unlike "Liar". The song goes through changes in mood, from serious to humorous, just as all Caravan songs are promised to. Boyle's solo bridges to the next song ""The unauthorized breakfast item".

Richard Coughlan (Ds)


This song is about an incident at the annual progressive rock festival called NEARfest (www.nearfest.com) held in Trenton New Jersey, telling a story of "unauthorised item" found in the check of breakfast buffet. The refrain chorus "tell me, tell me, tell me what the truth is" sounds awafully familiar from some other song but nonetheless a good fun.
This song is bridged by strings into the suite of "Backwards" - "A hunting we shall go" whose distinctive melody is an indication of the band's association of Soft Machine.
As the ethereally beautiful melody was played on accoustic piano over the flowing string, the audience made a rippling noise of clapping and sighs in awe. The Viola leads on and joined by the guitar in unison, reaching to the climaxing part in harmony. Then the drum roll fills in to make an avalanche of sound of "A hunting we shall go". This is an excellent example of the compositional ability of the band.

The last song is none other than the suite that is usually called "For richard". The Viola and Boyle's bottleneck guitar create sound scape as the prelude to the magnum opus.
As Hasting quietly starts singing, the whole audience became completely silent, in anticipation to hear every notes of the music. That is how powerful this song is. Pizzicato Viola was performed in blues scale, which was continued in bowing, as if to tell some story.
After a long break part played with the Viola and the Guitar, the band blasts into the all-out jamming festival. The theme melody presented by Schelhaas on the Organ was transformed into howling synth solo, then on electric piano, converses with the Viola, showcasing the perfect combination of the two seasoned instumentalists. Drum solo was featured to a great cheering of the audience before reaching the climax in the end. It was tremendous to witness such a heavy and tight sound come out of this band, possibly at their best in 35 years.

The band comes back for encore. The Viola plays sostenuto that introduces thumping rythms of "Memory Lain , Hugh". The tight performance brings the image of the inner sleeve photo of the band on stage of "For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night". The audience is furiously clapping their hands. It may be noted that the most part of the audience is those who followed the band from their hay day in the 70's. It's rather amusing to see those middle-aged men in blue business suits bouncing up and down (it was on a week day). Schelhaas's keyboard solo soared high and tasty flute phrases of Richardson were heard. The song continued into "Headloss" with Coughlan's count off on his drum sticks. The whole oerformance smoked in every way.

The band reappears for another encore to meet the expectatin of the audience. More than half of the audience teither knew what to be played or had a mounting expectation for "If I could do it all over again, I'd do it all over you". This song made a hit in the 60's when it came out. A cunning poptune that has the chorus refrain of "who-do-you-think-you-are" that makes the basis rhythm by itself.
The famous spoons were played by Richardson. This time his spoons are equipped with electric pickup to make it possibly the first electrick spoons in the history of music. The sense of humor and the passion for perfection are more often found with this fantactic band than any other.

Pye Hastings (Guitar,Vocal)
Geoffrey Richardson (Viola, Flute, Spoons)
Richard Coughlan (Drums,)
Jan Schelhaas(Keyboards)
Jim Leverton (Bass, Vocal)
Doug Boyle (Lead Gtr)

<Set List>

1. All the way (with John Wayne's single handed liberation of Paris) / BDaSD
2. A very smelly, grubby little oik /BDaSD
3. Liar /TBoH
4. The dog, the dog, he's at it again /FGWGPitN
5. Nine feet underground /ItLoGaP
6. Tell me why /TUBI
7. Revenge /TUBI
8. Nightmare /BbF
9. Smoking gun /TUBI
10. The unauthorized breakfast item /TUBI
11. Backwards - A hunting we shall go /FGWGPitN
12. For Richard /IICDiAOA,IWDIAOY
13. Memory Lain , Hugh /FGWGPitN
14. Headloss /FGWGPitN
15. If I could do it all over again , I'd do it all over you /IICDiAOA,IDiAOY
(Album acronym: "Blind Dog at St. Dunstans", "The Battle of Hastings",
"For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night", "In the Land of Grey and Pink", "The Unauthorized
Breakfast Item" (new to be released), "If I Could Do it Over Again, I'd Do it All Over You")

Report by Tatsuro Ueda
Photography by Yoko Ueda
Endit by Asako Matsuzaka
Many thanks to SMASH, On Air West

Copyright (C) 2003 Global Artist Network. All rights reserved.