Wednesday, 7 May 2003Procol Harum at the House of Blues, Cambridge, Monday night.
Procol Harum lead singer Gary Brooker finally looks the way he's always sounded.
With a weathered, ruddy complexion and his receding white hair cut just a little longer than average, Brooker's appearance matches the soulful, world-weary vocals he's contributed to Procol Harum's songs since Whiter Shade of Pale raced up the charts in the late 1960s.
The subject of age was never far from Brooker's mind during the band's two lengthy sets at the House of Blues Monday night. Brooker, 53 [sic!], constantly poked fun at both himself and his audience.
The band is touring because members' pensions 'aren't worth very much any more,' he quipped before breaking into Wall Street Blues' from the group's fine new disc, The Well's on Fire.' He also recommended his listeners buy the new disc and pass it along to their grandchildren.
It all would have seemed like so much whistling past the graveyard if Brooker and the band hadn't sounded so vital. Procol Harum also tucked nearly half of the new album among the two dozen [sic] songs it performed.
The group still is anchored by the keyboards of Brooker (piano) and fellow founding member Matthew Fisher (organ). Guitarist Geoff Whitehorn, aboard for several years, showed he can comfortably mimic guitar lines from the early days and solo confidently on newer songs.
Brooker's voice always has been Procol Harum's most distinctive feature, though, and it was in prime condition Monday, whether on rockers such as Simple Sister' and the new Shadow Boxed or the quasi-classical mysterioso tunes that have been the band's bread-and-butter, such as the concert-ending Whiter Shade.
Sometimes, Brooker carried on a tad too long, and the group's mid-tempo dirges began to run together after a spell.
But there wasn't a hint of desperation in the show - pension jokes notwithstanding - and the inclusion of so many strong new numbers made this a good deal more than just a pleasant exercise in nostalgia.
Original article here