Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Diary from an old dairy

Henrik Gøttrup

In the early spring of 2006 Danish Radio announced Procol Harum as top-of-the-bill artist at the famed (at least in Denmark) Ledreborg Castle concerts. Only a few days later our supremos (Roland and Jens) went public on BtP that the occasion might be right for another Palers' Convention.

Knowing that Roskilde would be perfect for a base-camp, and that Lejre has a very good culture-house, I immediately contacted BtP offering my help – although I was quivering by the thought of contacting the two persons that until then seemed god-like to me. People knowing that much about PH must be, and surely are, something divine considering the fact that until March of this year I had been enjoying PH only at a distance at various concerts and via my collection of LPs and CDs. Anyway would they answer my mail ?

Yes, they did ! Actually they found it interesting that we might be able to hold the convention locally and so near to the castle concerts. And in the beginning of April Jens and Thomas Raa Olsen arrived in Lejre to look over the premises and possible base-camp (Scandic Hotel in Roskilde). It was a dreadful Saturday of constant rain but spirits were high. All evening (and most of the night) the three of us talked about the convention and Procol of old and now. Good food and lots of beer and wine didn’t make the evening worse. To add to that, Jens couldn’t believe that the Castle Concerts were such a big event with 22,000 spectators over the two days. He didn’t think that Procol Harum were aware of the size of the concerts and exposure in Denmark.

The next few weeks Jens, Roland and I spent hours Skyping about how to carry out the convention. Felix (the old dairy turned into a culture-house) was booked for five days in August, back-line and necessary instruments were hired with good help from the people of Lejre and a few of my friends among the Roskilde Festival sound-managers. And BtP announced the 2006 Palers' Convention in Lejre.

Pictures of a snow-clad Felix was sent to Roland for the web-page: but, fearing that the foreign contingent of Palers would get the impression that Denmark is close to the Arctic, he invited me to take some new pics of Felix and Lejre in glorious sunshine to promote the event on the BtP.

Things were growing all the time and not only did Danish Radio promote the concerts heavily (although not necessary ~ they always sell out) they also wanted to know about the convention and even made a half-hour interview with me for broadcast nationwide on a Saturday at 12.30 pm. Palers were becoming hot news. Who are those people crazy enough to go from all over the world to Lejre to see both Castle concerts and rehearse and party for five days?

The papers took an interest in the convention as well. I started to wonder what I had got myself into. On the other side: what a chance to promote Procol Harum to those that might not yet have enjoyed the wonderful music. I decided to go for it and take advantage of the enormous interest to spread the gospel. Having never before been interviewed for radio and papers it was quite nervy but the good cause erased the nerves.

Having returned from our holidays in Sardinia Helle (my wife) and I speeded things up and again there were daily Skyping and e-mailing with Roland and Jens. The logistics were sorted out and on Monday August 14 Linda and Roland arrived by car in Lejre. Nice to see them in real life, having until then had only voice-connection.

The next day Jens, Titti and Torjus arrived and base-camp was filling with foreign Palers. We put up the stage in Felix and everything was ready for start of rehearsals on Wednesday. The rented equipment arrived as ordered and the band began to work.

Thursday evening was the first test of how to cater the guests. Instead of having pizzas at Felix we decided to invite the Palers' Band to our house, have a barbecue, wines, beer etc. The weather was excellent and we could stay outdoors.

Preparations followed plans. Friday Helle, her sister Annette and Karen Raa spent the whole day preparing the catering for Saturday and Sunday, an enormous effort considering the amount of food having to be prepared. They did a great job.

Saturday. First concert at Ledreborg. Fantastic concert with brilliant sound in an unreal August sunshine. The Castle park filled to the limits. Great response from the audience. From the stage the compère told the public that a special species were present: the Paler contingent from all over the world.

To those that took part in the Felix-event: you know the rest. To all other Palers: let’s do it again. What a great experience.

Thanks to all of you that made the event such a good time for me and my family and Lejre. We made so many new friends and shall never forget it.

See you soon. 

Read all about the Ledreborg concert and the Palers' Revels here Procol dates in 2006


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