Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Colosseum at Budapest, 17 July 2004

The night before Procol Harum were to have played


One-Eye and Pat from the USA, and Roland and Linda from UK, had organised holidays so as to hear Procol Harum play at the Castle in Budapest on Sunday 18 July ... and these plans were set in stone by the time the gig was cancelled through contract failure. Hopes were high, however, of hearing Colosseum play on 17 July.

But, as we wandered the castle's elaborate precincts, not a sound of music was to be heard, so we repaired to a restaurant instead. On emerging, at about 10 o'clock, we went down towards Lion Court and to our astonishment found that the band was indeed playing, but that the music was muted by colossal Hungarian architecture.

Barriers and drapery prevented access to the Lion Court itself but the unmistakable strains of The Kettle and Valentyne Suite could be heard ... and the sound really was very good.

As the Dave Greenslade's Hammond rang forth it was hard to suppress frustration that Procol would not be playing there the following night.

The factotums or factota on the gate were equally immune to charm and to money, so we were obliged to listen only from outside.

What little we could see of the Courtyard beyond suggested that the concert was pretty sparsely attended for a Saturday night out in a European capital. Small wonder that the Sunday night show featuring PH among other attractions had folded.

As Linda, Allen and Pat continued to listen from without, however, BtP resorted to some mildly oblique
strategies and was soon in a position to make a photographic report of the interior of the courtyard.

First impressions were that there were lots of empty places, and that the seated crowd was just as keen on chatting as on listening to the Hiseman drum solo ...

The setting, however, was absolutely superb .... crying out for a performance of Grand Hotel in fact

The stage occupied about half the width of one facade of the Royal Palace ...

... and a lot of the listeners chose to sit a bafflingly long way back, in the opposite corner

The real music enthusiasts gathered in typical fashion at the foot of the stage

No sign of Chris Farlowe or Dick Heckstall-Smith, mind ... maybe I was in the position of the average punter who shows up for a Procol gig expecting to hear Robin Trower ... or Mick Grabham ... or Matthew Fisher ...

Back at his hotel One-Eye made a quick check of 'Beyond the Pale', perhaps on the off-chance that by some magic the following evening's Procol show had suddenly been reinstated but it was not to be.

So Plan B, the Procol show by Proxy, clearly was the only option left ...


Procol Harum concerts in 2004: index page


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