Caravan, The Sage Gateshead, 12.01.13.

Tonight it’s Hall 2 at The Sage, an intimate setting , capacity of about 400. I was playing some early Caravan on the way up, and was reminded how their keyboard sound was not dissimilar to that of Richard Wright’s in Pink Floyd’s early years. In fact, Floyd and Caravan had similar college audiences c.1969,  but I couldn’t imagine a group today calling themselves Pink Floyd would only be playing to 400.

Anyway, first up was Garron Frith. Guitar/vocals, Manc patter with self-penned songs in a bed-sit sort of style. OK, should always get a support slot like this (travelling light) and ideal for festivals.

Caravan start on time, with a familiar opening salvo of ‘Memory lain Hugh’ and ‘Headloss’ from their LP ‘For girls who grow plump in the night’. Next up is the title track from ‘In the Land of Grey and Pink’, and it is these 2 LPs which pretty much dominate the set.  We  get ‘Golf Girl’ and ‘The Dog, the Dog…’ with the likes of ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Fingers in the till’ interrupting the flow of 70s stuff. Their magnum opus ‘9 Feet Underground’ finishes the main set and the encore is again from ‘Girls…’.    At one point Geoff Richardson announced that they had released 28 official records and quite a few had sneaked out from which they have received nothing (sorry Geoff, I have inadvertently bought a couple of the latter section!).  I definitely feel sorry for anyone in the audience who had bought the other 26 lps but not ‘Girls…’ or ‘Land…’.  I reckon there will be a few fans who reckon both these 2 LPs crept into the charts. I certainly know people who have one or both. In fact, neither troubled the charts and it was the later ‘Cunning Stunts’ and ‘Blind Dog at St Dunstan’s’ which both gate-crashed the middle of the Top 100 for one week only.   An airing for ‘Show of our lives’ or the earlier, quirkier ‘If I could do it…’ wouldn’t have gone amiss, but that’s only nit-picking.   Pye Hastings has a very lightweight voice which very occasionally struggled to get up to us in the top row, but the musicianship was spot-on,  with long-time , in-out member Jan Schelhas getting some very Sinclairesque sounds from his keyboards.

This lineup has been going for a while now,  apart from original drummer Richard Coughlan having to retire a few years ago through ill health.  They seem to reconvene every so often,  based on Pye Hastings giving up his day job in Scotland for a while.  Grown up music, catch them while you still can.


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