Roland and Jens, the Anglo/Norse team who run 'Beyond the Pale', would just like to take this quick opportunity to wish all the site-visitors a Happy New Year, and to thank everyone who has sent in material to keep up our daily updates, unrivalled by any music site on the web.
The Procol year started with Gary performing with choir and orchestra in a superb church in Naples, Italy. Procol Harum themselves did not play huge numbers of gigs, but they made up in quality what they lacked in frequency: the excellent new line-up sparkled in London with a superb programme including several real rarities, and nobody present will ever forget the return of Keith Reid to live performance! 'Beyond the Pale' organised a very pleasant and informal party before that gig, as well as fixing accommodation for all the fellow-travellers who migrated in to hear the band play. There were almost as many familiar faces in the crowd at one of the Swiss gigs, and many fans also got together socially at well-received gigs in France, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Austria.
Palers have also turned out to hear Geoff Whitehorn on splendid form with Elkie Brooks and with Roger Chapman, and it has been great to see Robin Trower touring small venues in the UK. Matthew Fisher made a rare solo appearance, in Greece, and we are sorry we weren't able to give fans sufficient notice of this to get there.
It was a great pleasure to hold a fans' supper with the Gary Brooker Ensemble after Gary's brilliant gig at Guildford Cathedral, where an extended group, with choir and strings, had aired some fine material in the worthy and excellent cause of helping the Tsunami survivors. Gary's charitable work also saw him directing a large group of rock luminaries at Wintershall, raising money for his local hospital. No Stiletto Shoes, his 'other' band, made their first charitable foray to play in the Indian subcontinent.
Gary didn't forget the fans, who will continue to profit directly from the sale of the Grand Hotel artwork he has been selling via eBay, splitting the income with his BJ Wilson Memorial Fund.
He also released a new recording, on which he plays all the instruments, and sings with The Drifters, via 'Beyond the Pale': this will continue to be available for download from the website until Twelfth Night. Just click here!
We feared we'd be ending the year on a mute note, since no gigs were scheduled for No Stiletto Shoes; but in the event these were amply replaced by an extraordinary affair, as the original line-up of The Paramounts got together for the first time in over 40 years for a single gig that was richly enjoyed by all who made it to Southend-on-Sea. To see Robin Trower, Chris Copping and Gary Brooker reunited on stage was a superb treat for Procoholics – we are the first generation to have seen Procol and the Paramounts on stage in a single year! – and it was great to see Mick Brownlee in good health too.
At the website we replaced the long-established list where fans had registered their e-mail addresses (which had become a target for spammers) with a much better, more secure system (explained here) that shows Procol fans' whereabouts in the form of a zoomable map, where satellite views are also available. It's still in its early days, so do add your name and town to that: just click here.
For 2006 Procol have already announced a gig in Norway, and we are hoping there will be more! Keep tuning in to 'Beyond the Pale', as always, for your daily fix of Procol information. Meanwhile keep your ears open for the third 2CD album of PH songs from The Palers' Project, which should be ready in the Spring.
So here's a Happy New Year once more to all Procol Harum's musicians, administrators, and fans!
Jens + Roland