Merry Christmas to everyone from the 'Beyond the Pale' team ... what a fantastic year for Procol Harum fans! It started with Gary and Keith's great endorsement of the Palers' Project album as a tribute to Procol song-writing, which was quickly capped by the release of a fabulous album from the Masters themselves, and a worldwide tour promoting it. With many broadcasts, generous signing sessions, as well as the concerts themselves, the band have made many new friends, as well as renewing acquaintance with some devoted old ones!
Gary Brooker was honoured with his MBE, and the fans were honoured when the whole band came and played at our party in Los Angeles ... a great event in which fans once again came together and had a wonderful time playing Procol and Fisher songs to each other, and to Procol themselves!
Finally Procol recorded their new DVD at their end-of tour homecoming gig in London: BtP hired an Indian Restaurant and fans invited the band to a memorable Curry Supper. Even then the year's music was not over, since Procol played as surprise guests at one of Gary and Franky's Christmas Charity gigs; and some of us finished the year in wonderful style at Gary's gig with No Stiletto Shoes at Southend-on-Sea, right in the cradle of Procoldom.
Procol Harum have continued to be a critical success and have renewed their world-wide reputation as a superb live band; they have never sounded better and their onstage camaraderie has been a great feature of their appeal too. Our thanks are also due to the management team and the crew who have sustained them on the long road this year.
It's been a brilliant year to be webmasters: thanks to everyone who has kept the website fed with photographs, articles, tour-diaries and so on, and to those who have co-hosted it while we've been away at gigs. It has been wonderful to 'meet old friends for the first time' in various countries, and to be received so warmly. We hope to return that hospitality at some future occasion. It's fitting that a unique band should have a uniquely enthusiastic fan-base worldwide, and a talented one too: the new Palers' Project CD should be announced in the Spring, so watch out for that!
Next year will see less Procol touring, we're sure, and that means fewer topical updates: so we hope all fans will dip deep into their scrap-books and send us lots more archive and personal material so we can keep up BtP's unrivalled record of adding a page a day ... at the last count we had about 3,500 pages, and were receiving over 300,000 page-visits every month.
A few hours ago Gary Brooker rang us, to wish everyone a Happy Christmas: look out for 'The Commander's New Year Message' on the site before the end of the year. He has contributed generously to the BtP puzzle-trophies ... which include signed CDs, rare tee-shirts and personal tour mementoes, so we hope everyone will enjoy our annual Christmas Puzzles: how to play, how to win, is explained at here ... see December 24. Special welcome to all the new PH-fans who have come on board during the year ... twelve days of Procoloid fun await you!
So may we join Gary Brooker, MBE, in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and an excellent 2004 ... with many more opportunities for meeting, playing, and listening to great rock music.
Jens + Roland