Unsteady Freddie reports, twice, from the Bottom Line in typically exuberant fashion! Don't miss the chance to review his candid snaps from the recording of The Prodigal Stranger ...
I just wanted to say Hi! to my fellow Procol freaks on line to report about the amazing two sets I saw the other night at The Bottom Line in New York City. The website lists the sets by the way – songs varied between the two shows. Piggy Pig Pig in the second set was a personal highlight.
The band was tight – Gary was in great voice, and his sense of humor was the crispest I have ever heard – Geoff's playing was spectacular! The rest of the band held it all together magnificently. Matthew's solos were very well received (and his new song The Signature goes over real well). Standing ovation after standing ovation. Amazing. This ain't no oldies karaoke band – a very legitimate current band with a well-proven legacy – the old and the new blend beautifully.
Ran into a lot of the familiar faces and names – sat with George from Canada the second set (I yelled out 'Is it on Tommy?' during a dead spot, and Gary Brooker blew into the mike, and said it right back to me ... a very personal moment). Ran into Larry Pennisi, Allen 'One-Eye' Edelist, Tony Sadowski, and many others.
As if Friday wasn't enough, I am going again on Sunday, and taking my Mother – yeah, my Mum – after all it's Mothers' Day, right? She too cries when she hears A Whiter Shade of Pale – she associates that song so much with me. In fact, whenever I am asked to light a candle at a Bar Mitzvah or Wedding, the band (or DJ) always plays AWSoP – and I assure you I am always sobbing. How many times can I listen to that song and be stirred with passion? Answer: infinite, and it will always touch my soul.
I am saving a seat tonight for "our" Beverly – hairdresser to the stars! – who is catching up with me at the show. Quick story – backstage at The Felt Forum (a theatre in Madison Square Garden – since renamed The Theatre) in 1973 (I think) – I am talking with Keith Reid, and I tell him, "You're not gonna believe this, but there's a hair salon in Riverdale (The Bronx, New York) called "Procol Hairum". He says "Really?" "I'd like you to meet Beverly, she owns it." How's that for a special didn't-see-it-coming moment?
My friend Shirley wore my infamous "rhinestoned" Procol shirt (I gave the identical one to each band member in 1972 or 1973 - bit fuzzy) – Gary wore his in Manchester (and was wearing it in the advertisement for the Manchester concert); and, for those not aware, BJ is actually buried wearing the one I gave him. It doesn't get any more personal than that!
Love you all! Trying to maintain my composure as tonight's show draws closer. As we say over here, I am "flipping out". What a great moment for me – so grateful to be alive (for starters), and to be able to share this event with so many others who dig the music as much as I do. You know what? "It's all so simple really if you just look to your soul". Where have I heard that?
Unsteady Freddie wishes you peace and hopes that for today you are able to rock and roll simultaneously!
Hey there Procol fans/freaks, it's me again, Unsteady Freddie, with a follow-up from my previous correspondence.
The dust has cleared, and I am trying hard as hell to come down from this high I am on. And, to boot, no enhancement needed (ie. no drugs, no alcohol, just pure music energy). But what's the hurry? The intensity of seeing Procol Harum again last night at the Bottom Line for the third of three sold-out shows is still vibrating within me.
As I reported earlier, I took my Mom along for the ride, and she had a blast. For starters, a lot of you Procol people in attendance were kind enough to come over and meet my Unsteady Mom! She got a real kick out of that. We both sobbed together for AWSoP – what a spiritual moment for me, I gotta tell you. My Mom and I have not always been best of pals – imagine two people fighting over a parking spot that neither vehicle can fit into! That was then, this was now.
And Mom rocked! Yeah she was be-boppin' for every song. She got to meet the entire band – before and after the show – with pictures (I will send them to Roland – maybe he will post them?). Gary said, "So this is your creator?" We all had a laugh. But when Gary added, "We've loved your boy for many years now", well, needless to say, I just lost it!! An immediate blubbering idiot, yeah that was me. Can you blame me?
Drummer-boy Mark signed a Big Country vinyl LP, and rock guitarist extraordinaire Geoff signed a Crawler "picture disc" – he commented, "There are only five of these left in existence", to which I responded, "I've got four of them, where's the other one?", at which we all just cracked up.
Beverly was in the house from Florida – and she got to see an amazing show (more on that in a minute). Another funny moment – before the show, this guy walks in with a pompadour, no make that a "tsunami haircut" – scary scary look if you ask me – I have seen him before at The Bottom Line. I said to Matt and Mark, "why do I feel like surfing all of a sudden?" Funny huh? Then I added, "You know what, that guy is not "being funny", whereas I am!". Hysterical moment.
But the show? I wish you all could have been there with the 400 of us. What a blow-out show, holy shit, I kept asking the waitress to call an ambulance, and get the gurney ready!! Things I haven't heard live in a long time, Quite Rightly So, Whaling Stories, Whisky Train, 'Twas Tea Time at the Circus, and on and on. And that Bach centerpiece in Repent Walpurgis – I swear I feel angels all around me every time that is played – both live and on record (especially the symphonic Long Goodbye version). Hand me a napkin, will ya? Floodgates for me.
Sitting to my left was a fellow named "Twig" from a cool American garage band (those Fabulous Sixties!) called Richard & The Young Lions (new CD coming soon I am told; Richard himself was there Friday night [and listen out for them on the next Palers' Project album, perhaps!]) – his poor girl-friend between us had to put with us yelling, screaming, crying – all very emotional.
Called Keith this morning to thank him for the hospitality, the love, the joy, the vibes. I'm drained, but could do this every day. So, in summation, and if you were there you know what I am talking about, 1967 met 2003 in beautiful harmony – how lucky are we to still have this special group around? Give thanks to your Higher Power, repeatedly. Oh wait, Procol Harum = PH = HP = Higher Power ---- I knew there was a connection!!!
My soul is so filled with a passion unlike any I have felt in a long time. Break into tears out of nowhere – amazing! I hope I have conveyed some of that here. Again, I hope you all are able to Rock And Roll Simultaneously!
Unsteadier than ever and loving it