A fan's Procol tour diary: summary
May 2003 : Al 'One-Eye' Edelist
This instalment is the last for my Eastern Tour with Procol Harum, looking after merchandise and so on: reflecting on those days on the road, I found these were the thoughts I brought along ... in no particular order.
- I was quite taken with Montreal. It is a happening city with very friendly people.
- The caretakers at the Spectrum were very helpful, and they truly appreciate it when a band of Procol's stature comes to play. Even though they were chomping at the bit to let the Procoholics into the venue on time, they allowed the band and crew the necessary time to get everything right. They were wonderful in helping get the merchandise section set up correctly.
- The House Of Blues in Cambridge was accommodating, too. They let fans drift in during the sound check and didn't harass anyone who wanted to stay and meet the band after the gig. They made selling the merchandise a pleasant experience as I had a great little cubbyhole where I had a perfect view of the show.
- The Birchmere was a little more strict at first, but got very into the flow of the evening as the gig and then the autograph session concluded the event. I met the owners of the club just by chance. Really super people. I remember very distinctly noticing their staff stopping their pre-event setup a few times to listen to the band during the sound check. They seemed genuinely taken by the music.
- The Theater Of Living Arts was amazing as numerous people asked about BtP and were very complimentary and appreciative of the daily uploads and featured links. This was the first night that I learned from Roland about the new record of pageviews set at BtP as the tour was rolling along. The staff was extremely helpful in getting everything right for the merchandise.
- Allan Pepper of The Bottom Line relished the idea that he met an Allen and an Alan. Of course, he suggested the his name was the only one that was spelled properly. He was quite taken by the response to the band. He was very helpful to me, even though the unlikely merchandise room was really a coatroom
- The IMAC was the nicest of all of the venues from a modern-setting standpoint. The manager was very accommodating from my limited observation.
- The road crew of Jules, John, Graham and Tony were just great people. Very professional! The wives and girlfriends were gracious, too.
- A funny moment in Philadelphia came towards the end of the second set where a guy came up to the lighting board and asked Tony how far along in the set they were. Tony said, "I don't know." With the setlist hanging right in front of him, the guy asked again and got the same response. The guy said he was with the club and wanted to know. Tony said, "I don't know! It always changes." Flustered, the guy just walked away.
- At the Birchmere, Jules had traveled with the truck that brought the equipment from Boston to Virginia. Evidently, the directions weren't exactly correct. After an all-night drive and a two-hour travel time loss, the truck arrived. Another John, who drove the truck between the cities, looked a bit worse for wear, but always maintained a pleasant attitude throughout the tour. Jules looking quite ragged after only two hours of sleep during the drive, just continued to be positive and did a great job of keeping things rolling while waiting for the rest of the crew and the band to show. Overall, these guys were on the mark at every show. And again I must comment how nice they are and very gracious to me anytime I asked questions.
- The band seemed stronger every night. My favorites? Every night was a favorite for different reasons: Montreal because I got to know Geoff, Matt, Mark, Tony, Jules, John, and Graham better through us going out for drinks after the show. Boston for Maf stopping a few times to talk with me. And for the incredible crowd response which made it even more pleasant as I got to meet and re-acquaint with people.
- Gary for acknowledging me as being helpful and not intrusive.
- Procol's manager Chris Cooke, whom I admire for being able to handle ten things at once, and being gracious.
- Carol Fisher for the great evening we had sitting together at the IMAC concert, and for her wonderful stories and appreciation of us Procoholics. Especially, the terrific accounting of Ritchie Blackmore and Matthew reliving their moments with Lord Sutch.
- Each night the band was better than the last. They truly enjoy their camaraderie. The older tunes seemed so invigorating as this group was charged up by interspersing them and some seldom played songs live with the new material.
- The travelling was slightly more tiresome than expected. It was all made up for by a new experience every evening and finally meeting so many great Palers that I had only known by name, and renewing friendships with those who made the journeys to the different venues.
- Maybe the most poignant moment of the tour was visiting Ground Zero a day prior to the first two Bottom Line shows. And again the day of with Larry Pennisi and Alan Semok. It put a chill and perspective into The Blink Of An Eye. Meeting Keith that evening an knowing he lived so close to this tragedy magnified the size of the enormous hole left in Lower Manhattan, the world, and the incredible grief I felt for the lost lives and families that must endure.
- That sickness was felt initially when after the Montreal concert and stumbling back to my hotel at 4:00 AM, I was overcome with food-poisoning that cost me a good three hours of unpleasantness until I was finally able to go to sleep.
- I recall after one show commenting to Roland that I was a little worn out enjoying the shows, helping Chris and the band with the merchandise, and BtP with daily instalments that sometimes took upwards of two hours to write and edit before emailing. Roland's great comment was something to the effect that it was wearing him out with the time difference, staying up late to receive and post the setlists somewhat immediately at BtP.
- Also, Jens's courteous emails thanking me for making him feel like he was with us.
- The autograph sessions and some of the original vinyls and other items of memorabilia that came out of the archives by the fanatics and completists blew me away. Especially the night in Philly where one fan gave up his vinyl Journey's End and waited outside for over an hour in the rain for its return and Matthew's signature. Great and dedicated fans PH has accumulated over the decades.
- The evening in Virginia when Beverly was waffling about coming to New York for the final show, we had emails gong back and forth which led to a 15 minute phone conversation. And as I tried to hand the phone to Gary in the kitchen on his way out to the autograph session, the signal dropped. Gary is standing there after saying, "Hi Beverly" and looking at me and saying, She's not there." That conversation never got completed until Beverly bravely made the journey to New York. At least I know the emails I sent for Franky got through.
- That night also brought the other most poignant moment of the tour, which was meeting the wonderful Mary Froning, our late friend Peter's sister. As she pointed out that having seen Procol Harum for the first time, it gave her a true understanding of how their music and words have touched all of us and especially Peter. She understood what Paler Power is all about and how we are all intertwined.
- As Mary referenced PH, "We are all fellow travellers," I revisited in my head visually and audially those moments we spent a block from our hotel in Guildford at a restaurant where Larry played the piano and Peter, Tito and I sang Procol tunes into the evening. Yes, Something Magic being born that has lasted and will remain as an eternal memory.
THE WELL'S ON FIRE! "We'll keep one eye on the future with one eye on the past."
Until the Western US tour, thanks to everyone who yelled "One-Eye." You made me feel very special and as an integral part of our common cause.
The Monocular One