Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at Milan, 4 December 2002

Words and pictures: Antonio Costa Barbé

I was in Teatro Smeraldo, where Procol Harum were to play, at about 5 o'clock with some old journalist friends: Alfredo Marziano, past collaborator of Musica e Dischi, now freelance and collaborator at, and Aldo Pedron from Mucchio Selvaggio and Buscadero. And then : Mauro Zanetti from Musica e Dischi and Claudio Buja from Casa Discografica Universal, and Paolo Battigelli from Guitar Club magazine.

Procol soundcheck at Milan, December 2002

At 5.30 pm Gary and co. were on the podium for a brief sound check (25 minutes: on stage in the photo, apart from Gary, Geoff and Matt, is Ron Manigley, tour manager): they played Piggy Pig Pig and Old English Dream. There were greetings among Gary, Maf and me: I gave to them, and to Mark Lundquist, Italian sweets (fresh pasticcini from the 'Antica Pasticceria Boriolo di Novara'): these were very welcome and the band ate the whole tray of pasticcini with delight!!

At 6 pm there was an interview with Gary and Maf: it will be out in a while on; the mood was very relaxed!

At 9.20 pm the concert began: in the auditorium there were about 1,200 people, including some old Italian musicians (some members of Dik-Dik: they are the group that in 1967 covered AWSoP (as Senza Luce); and Enrico Ruggeri, well known and appreciated songwriter, and many others). The audience was in the 30–60 age-group but there were people about of 20 / 25 as well; there was great enthusiasm and semi-standing ovations after Homburg, Salty Dog, Grand Hotel, Fortuna (....!!!)

You're a genius, Gary!

One guy cried: Gary, sei un genio!

Another guy: che Dio ti conservi la voce! Gary was in very good voice, a touch raspy, but always entirely fascinating specially to Italians who had not heard him for thirty years. There were some words from Gary in Italian, between the songs, and some of his usual verbal jokes.

The setlist was very similar to that from Florence: surprisingly there was no Conquistador, audience requests notwithstanding.

Then at about 11 pm outside the theatre, Gary and Maf gave autographs to a bunch of people on the covers of old LPs before getting on the bus. Gary greeted me with great warmth. All in all it was a very nice, thrilling event for me and for the Italian Procol fans in Milan.

Procol Harum concerts in 2002: index page


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