Caravan at De Boerderij in the Netherlands - live review

Canterbury pioneers Caravan visit the Dutch capital of prog!

A crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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Because of recent terrorist attacks across Europe, De Boerderij asks for a minute’s silence before the band begin their performance. Once those 60 seconds are over, the crowd applaud out of respect and welcome Caravan to the stage. But instead of the sparkling opening they were expecting, the seasoned musicians begin their set with some soft jamming. The audience exchange confused looks, but the reason for this low-key introduction soon becomes clear. Keyboardist Jan Schelhaas is experiencing some technical issues, but luckily these problems are quickly resolved so he and the rest of the band can begin properly with opening song All This Could Be Yours.

After Headloss, Geoffrey Richardson asks for audience participation during one of Caravan’s most well-known songs. Fans are asked to make a wibble-wibble noise during In The Land Of Grey And Pink, as he explains it’s what original bassist and vocalist Richard Sinclair did in between vocal takes on the recording.

Older material, namely Golf Girl, The Dog The Dog He’s At It Again and Nightmare, wrap up the end of the first set. After a short interval, Caravan return with I’m On My Way, Fingers In The Till and Dead Man Walking, all from most recent album Paradise Filter. Lead vocalist and guitarist Pye Hastings dedicates the song I’ll Be There For You to his wife, because he used to be far away from home too often during tours. The set ends with The Love In Your Eye, which transitions into For Richard. But the band return to play one encore, the 20-minute Nine Feet Underground, which is received with a loud applause.

While they’re regarded as the pioneers of the Canterbury sound, the newer songs have a more accessible classic rock, jazz rock and even country twang. While the crowd clearly prefer the older material, they still encourage and appreciate the more recent music.

Although Hastings’ unstable voice is the weakest link during the show, the overall performance more than compensates for this.

Next year, the band will reach their 50th anniversary, and according to Richardson, it’s certain that the inevitable celebration will not go unnoticed. In their own way, Caravan will be making a big noise.