Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum in Rome, 2003

Finding the stage plan and channel list

Carlo Ponissi in Italy sent BtP (September 2011) a recently-discovered stage plan from Procol Harum's Roman show in 2003. Here he tells the story of finding this artefact.

It has been a while since I decided to write this short article for BtP, but time scarcity had postponed it so far.

First, I guess I'll have to introduce myself to the many readers that still doesn't have any idea of who I am…I'm a 23 years old Italian Hammond player that started to play the instrument mainly because of Procol Harum and of the work of Matthew Fisher in our beloved band. Only a few years ago I had been transfixed by the notes of A Whiter Shade of Pale and, afterwards, compositions like The Signature, Shine on Brightly, Repent Walpurgis and so on marked the routine of my days. I reached a point where I simply had to play that music.

Today I'm the leader of Sormorock, a rock band whose repertoire is built around the music of Procol Harum, either performing their numbers or playing original music written in their style, variegated as it is.

This summer I had the opportunity to take my first jazz seminar, following as a student the 'Tuscia in Jazz' festival in Soriano del Cimino, near Rome, where the organ master Tony Monaco was going to teach for a week.

As you might know, 'real' Hammond organs are quite rarely seen nowadays, often digital 'clones' are used, even if they doesn't sound just 'right' as the original thing (yes, even in recent PH concerts and, recently, even by Fisher himself), but at the seminar we took our lessons on an original, wonderfully-sounding sounding, C3, an organ that sounded even better than the only one I had the opportunity to play before and that made the clones cringe with embarrassment.

One night we opened the organ's bench to seek for some replacement valves (the organ had been misused and had to be repaired…and I'm  not going to write more on this topic.) and we found, just laying there on the top of everything, the sheet of which you can see a scan attached. A Procol Harum stage plan.

For the non-technical people, a stage plane is a sheet sent from bands to the venue manager in order to find everything they need placed on the stage how they want it.

Curious to note the names ("Mathew"!)…Also, according to the stage plan, Fisher was going a VK7 (perhaps his own one?) as a keyboard in addition to the Hammond, just like we can see on the Union Chapel DVD. I still wonder why some items are crossed.

After some investigating I discovered that we had been playing the Hammond used by Matthew Fisher with Procol Harum in Rome in 2003. An organ that the master used to play even Weisselklenzenacht! Well, it is a mere coincidence and nothing factually important, but perhaps you can imagine the emotional meaning for someone that loves that music so much as I do.

I guess that's everything, Sormorock will play again very soon and this time it will be big. More to come…

Carlo 'Jack' Ponissi
Hammond organ, Sormorock

The stage-plan in question

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