Procol Harum

the Pale

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

Procol Harum at Keitelejazz Festival, Finland

from Sisä-Suomen Lehti • July 2009

François Courvoiser writes to 'Beyond the Pale' (summer 2009) from Switzerland: 'I have received by the journalist who has interviewed me this memorable 23 July a copy of the local newspaper.' These two pieces were kindly translated into English by Timo 'Juice' Huhtala, cinematographer/Procol-fan from Kallio in Helsinki.
Compassion or pain? Gary Brooker, the singer and keyboard player of Procol Harum, was evidently feeling quite bad on stage.

The crowd, which heard the announcements, gave him their support.



Broken ribs didn't stop Gary Brooker from performing

Some fans got disappointed at Procol Harum's pale, curtailed performance

The signs didn't seem very bright at Procol Harum's soundcheck in Keitele Jazz on Thursday. Gary Brooker, the singer-keyboardist and the only original member of the band, seemed anguished and his movement was painful.

– Gary can't give a hundred-percent performance at this evening's gig, but he will do his best. He is a professional. I think no one will get disappointed, reckoned Geoff Whitehorn, the guitarist of Procol Harum, before the gig.

Chris Cooke, the manager of the band, tells that the band stopped for a cigarette break by the roadside on the way to Äänekoski on Wednesday evening. Brooker stood upon a log and fell. In consequence of the fall he broke several ribs.

The performance was disappointing for many

– I fell on a rock, which took my breath away, Brooker explained his bad condition at the gig.

– My doctor forbade me to move in order to avoid the broken ribs' breaking through my lungs, he described the seriousness of the situation for the crowd. The pain interferes with the singing.

Both Geoff Whitehorn, the guitarist, and Matt Pegg, the bassist, had to sing almost all of Mr Brooker's vocals during the evening's gig. Some of the songs were played as short versions and the gig turned out be abbreviated.

– Koskenkorva [the traditional Finnish booze] could give Gary the kind of anaesthesia that he could sing, Pekka Lehto wondered in the crowd when, in the middle of the show, Gary Brooker was offstage for pain medication.

After a short break, the band tried to continue their performance and Gary opened his mouth couple of times.

– The songs of Procol Harum are so beautiful that you could listen to them instrumentally too, commented Jussi Niemi in the crowd.

He was very disappointed though, because he didn't get to hear Mr Brooker's charismatic voice at the gig.

On the road again

Mr Brooker didn't give any interviews because of his injury, so Geoff Whitehorn did the talking. He tells that Procol Harum had a break in touring in 2008 because a person in Mr Brooker's circle had got very ill and Mr Brooker wanted be at that person's side. Now this person has recovered and the band is touring again.

– It's great to play for the crowd again. Each time is little bit different, Mr Whitehorn notes in good humour.

– In order to play along we have to watch what Gary is playing: he likes to change the rhythm and play faster and slower occasionally, he continues.

The tour started last week from Roots-festival in Norway, the performance at Keitele Jazz was only second one after the break. In the future the band will play shows at least in Russia, Germany and again in Norway.

– It was very bright in Norway. Darkness never came at all. We played in some shed where they dry codfish, Mr Whitehorn reflected on the last amazing venue.

The boys of the band are humorous

The guitarist tells that he is very bitter about the events of history.

– In Viking times the Norwegians took all our good-looking women away and left the most ugly ones.

Matt Pegg, the bassist of the band, tells that Gary is a hardcore fisher and that he took his fly-fishing rod on the tour. Because of his injury he probably didn't get to try his fishing luck in Äänekoski.

– Gary took me under his wing, and the guitarist Geoff taught me all the bad habits, recalled Mr Pegg about his first years in the band, which he joined in 1993.

– Actually I looked after him. My job is to take care of all the others but myself, laughs Mr Whitehorn beside him.

New record on the way

Mr Whitehorn says that the band is recording new material bit by bit. They go to the studio for few days now and then, when they have some time off.

The plan is that the record will come out in 2010. After that there is going to be a new tour also.

– We have three new songs on the setlist, and in addition we play all the classics at the gigs. We have to play them every time, says Mr Whitehorn.

He also mentions that the band has succeeded in keeping almost all their old fans and that new fans have been appearing, when the old ones bring their kids to the gigs.

– We have a wide span of audience in Scandinavia, Mr Whitehorn concludes.

Thanks François and Juice!

More about this concert

Procol Harum concerts in 2009: index page

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home