Procol Harum is a band that takes up a particular place in rock music history. It’s difficult to associate them with the different trends developed in this musical genre, thanks to their original offer that is able to mix rock much properly definite, the taste for fine melodies and the predisposition for orchestral arrangements, so somebody is inclined to insert them, even if they aren’t real representatives of it, in the symphonic-rock stream.
Certainly they were underestimated from critics and audience, mostly owing to their first clamorous hit, A Whiter Shade of Pale in 1967 that opened to them, band practically almost unknown till then, the way to celebrity. In my opinion exactly this debut song 'damages' them, meaning that, even if it made them famous all over the world, it caused wrong waits in audience: everybody wanted from them more and more, but really a song like this is unrepeatable. So even though they’ve kept on playing good music, for sure not so innovative but original and intelligent, they were not able maintaining that initial success, but retaining a solid group of fans, they slid little by little in the shadow, even if they haven’t stopped at all to perform live and to produce records, except for a long break from ’77 to ’91.
It was a nice surprise to know about this mini-tour (five dates of which the last one is this in Trento) that has taken back Procol Harum in Italy after about thirty years, considering that in this line-up there are the original organist Matthew Fisher and obviously the one who in all these years has embodied Procol Harum that is Gary Brooker. And really they are the bearing columns of this group: Brooker with his inspired voice, bluesy, with absolutely personal timbre, only veiled by passed years and his piano with which he draws melodies and underlines more lyrical passages. In the other side Matthew Fisher to Hammond organ, real glue and drive of Procol Harum, weaving plans of the different pieces, now powerful, now gentle which are the trademark of this group.
The other members, durable in this band from 2001, but in Procol Harum circle up to 1991, are: Geoff Whitehorn, solid guitarist before with Bad Company, Roger Daltrey and Paul Rodgers, who shows off a powerful sound and a high ability also in faster solos without decreasing in sterile technicality. At bass guitar there is Matt Pegg, the youngest in the band, son of Fairport Convention’s bass player, with an experience in Jethro Tull, perhaps a little bit sacrificed in this live performance, but who furnishes an indispensable rhythmical contribution. Mark Brzezicki completes the group; he’s an appreciated drummer, before with Big Country, provided of a powerful and precise drumming, able to insert imaginative rhythmic variations and melodic accents.
Repertoire? The historic one, made with songs which marked an era as Homburg, A Salty Dog, Repent Walpurgis and obviously A Whiter Shade Of Pale, played with an unexpected passion and verve after more than 30 years, but there are also two tracks from the new CD will be issued the next year.
A concert for nostalgic fifty-years-old men and survived of the 'summer of love' in 1967? Maybe. But not only this, considering the heterogeneity of the audience. Sure the band offers are not the newest and original ones and the program infuses nostalgia, but considering the quality of the show and the professionalism of the musicians we can peacefully say the concert is completely succeeded in a perfect way.
Over everything there’s the beauty of the music really without time, which had fully involved the audience.