Wayne Franks writes to BtP (5 May 2003)
Procol Harum's 12-year absence from the Montreal stage was well-compensated for Saturday 3 May at The Spectrum. The quintet's exuberant performance was matched by the crowd; a mostly forty-ish one. Their wild applause was welcomed by the band , exemplifying appreciation from both. It was the best example of such reciprocity I've seen in over three decades of concert-going.
Arriving 70 minutes before the doors opened assured my wife and our three cohorts a seat directly in front of Geoff. Mr Whitehorn's riffing and note-bending would keep us delighted for the entire evening. (It seemed as though he felt the notes rather than just play them. Much the same could be said of the rest of the band.)
After a rousing reception, the boys launched the first set with VIP Room, a tune few were familiar with, but soundly applauded. Before the night was over, eight more selections from The Well's On Fire would be played.
After a well-deserved interlude, Simple Sister opened the last set, a song very familiar to Montreal's numerous Robin Trower fans. Shadow Boxed followed, with a surprise ending: the lads froze in their positions at the sounding of the last note. Matthew's pose had his arms raised off the Hammond.
Gary muttered about a shipwrecked Scotsman who, in 1712, washed up on the Newfoundland shore gripping a case of whiskey; a hundred-mile feat! He then delved into The Piper's Tune. For Liquorice John was a surprise number for me, as I thought it had been relegated to the dustbin a long time ago [setlists are here; analysis here and here]. It was majestic!
The Signature and Conquistador ended the set on a high note. Of course, A Salty Dog and AWSoP were tenderly-interpreted encores, leaving fans satiated, but hopeful that it won't be another twelve years!
My regards to all in the band and entourage. I hope one day to see you on your own side of the pond!