Band (and Procol Harum) at Domus Felix, (not a shed at all, but a lovely
hall) Lejre, Denmark 19 August 2006
Despite being a serial PH concert-goer for over 35 years, meeting up with fellow-fans and listening to all the Palers' recordings, this was the first time I had ever attended one of their conventions if one can use the term to describe this friendly gathering of like-minded Harum nutters. It was a humbling experience, especially for one with no instrument to play and no talent to call on anyway. It almost rivalled attending the concerts themselves. I'll briefly describe my thoughts, but my pictures must do most of the talking ...
One must pay tribute first to the organisation which books venues, tickets, transport and hotels for fans. An idea takes shape that the Palers' Band will play as well. That means instruments and gear have to be arranged and transported. Musicians are mustered from all corners of the globe for rehearsals and performances all aspiring to the highest standards in paying homage to Procol's extensive catalogue.
We tucked into an excellent Danish buffet, arranged by a team of lovely local ladies, washed down by Tuborg lager and huge tumblers of vino. I ate (and talked) with Ross & Christine Bowen from Australia, whose favourite Procol track was Grand Finale (which I also love). I promised to send them some archive material (though I have temporarily mislaid their address.)
I renewed my acquaintance with legendary Direktor Hermann, whom I once saved from hypothermia at Guildford (though I was more concerned about the steadiness of his camcorder than his demise from the cold!) and his friends from the Netherlands who had transported us to and from the Castle earlier.
Then the Band walked in. We had thought they might be there. Now we were hoping they would stay a while, maybe even play for us ... now that's too much to ask for?
Stay they did. Talking to everyone. Sitting in to hear the Palers' Band as front row critics and enjoying a friendly banter with those on stage.
The Palers kicked off with Roland Clare and Linda Clare on concert marimba for Pandora's Box. We progressed through many fluid changes of cast, with the pixie impresario turning up on keyboards one minute, bass guitar the next, then doubling on woodwind with son Peter. Meanwhile stage left Ma was playing with another Roland (RD 600 piano).
I remember hearing Boredom, Rambling On (with fellow-Scot George Lovell as Batman), but the pièce de resistance was the epic in In Held 'Twas In I, which was something akin to watching an opera being enacted in a revolving door or some slow-motion car crash ... dangerously vulnerable one minute, brilliantly executed the next. The whole was breathtaking, no, make that exhausting! The irrepressible One-Eye was circus-jester-in-chief at Teatime and Gary Shepard & Richard Beck's guitar playing was sublime in Look to your Soul and Grand Finale. Leading the audience in exhorting our heroes through this marathon were a very vocal and animated Gary and the rest of the Harum.
Rambling onwith George Lowell in his Batman t-shirt
Palers Band performing In Held Twas in I
Earlier a white-jacketed GB had made a short speech of thanks, then Franky's significant birthday was recognised with the appearance of a giant cake, enough to feed 5,000.
The Harum happily decided the house band needed a break and got tuned up on the Palers' instruments with Geoff sporting a newly-acquired AWSoP tee-shirt. They gave us excellent three-song set A Rum Tale, Skip Softly, and Bringing Home the Bacon lighthearted and easy with everyone playing well, a wonderful bonus for us all. Geoff told me that after seeing Rob Trower playing a storm in concert, he had been in touch with him to talk guitar stuff. I had a brief minute with GB and he was delighted about my own personal health news, namely the successful treatment of my laryngeal tumour.
I also had a brief chat with Chris Cooke about the Band coming to Scotland. He knew of our great support for live music and recalled his last time in Dundee's Caird Hall when he was looking after none-other-than Billy Connolly (small fantasy quiz which Procol number would you get him to sing Every Dog or Fresh Fruit comes to mind...or did I hear Souvenir of London?)
After a couple of hours Procol Harum had to
go, possibly to rest up for the Sunday concert.
We resumed with our multinational expeditionary force though by then I was seriously taken by the Tuborg, so now find it difficult to recall what they played. I do remember a Robin Trower number [Bridge of Sighs] and the entire band posing for a souvenir photograph, bravely and somewhat-unsteadily taken from a high window-sill to get everybody in.
Then the perfect finish Matthew Fisher's masterpiece Repent Walpurgis [then AWSoP] and it was over around midnight. Roland announced a 9 am band-call for further rehearsals, and no-one protested - these guys are professional! Home to the hotel and, for most folk, another repeat treat on Sunday, both at Ledreborg Castle and here at the Domus Felix.
But someone else will have to tell the Sunday tale, as I had to be up and away on an early jet, back home in Scotland by 9.30am, my only regret being not accepting SAS's offer of 300 Euros to be bumped off the flight!
As always: the webmasters forms the rhythm section on A Whites Shade of Pale
This weekend was special - all the regular Palers said so at the
time and indeed done have since.
Now there is much to look forward to in the 40th Anniversary year . . . the DVD from this weekend for a start, and (we hope) gigs and get-togethers in
many accessible places.
So till the next time Palers, shine on brightly. And thanks for the memories one and all.
All photos by the author of this review
More reviews here
Charles Allison's review of the Procol Harum concert at Ledreborg Castle the same day.
Read all about the Ledreborg concert here and the Palers' Revels here
Procol dates in 2006