And so it was that, after a long wait, Procol played in my hometown, Tallinn (Estonia), on 19 November 2010. While definitely a big fan of Procol Harum, I’m not probably from the main demographic – if there is such a thing in the first place. I first discovered Procol in 1998, when I was only fifteen. But enough about me, let’s move on to the emotional highlights of that evening.
Procol came onstage at 8 o’clock and kicked straight off with Shine on Brightly – which makes a great starter. The sound was very clear and I’d actually say sound-wise it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever witnessed: everything was right in place.
The next one was Homburg – surely one of the most-recognised songs to the audience as we had a great Estonian cover of it back in the 70s. About Homburg, I have to say it’s the little things that count – in second verse, Geoff added a little tick-tock sound to the mix and one could easily visualise an image of a town-clock from it – now that’s how you create atmosphere!
The introduction to Wall Street Blues was well-received by the audience due to recession still weighing heavily on our shoulders here as well. Now this one really carried me away – with the strong beat and feeling – so I’m far from sure, but it seemed that in one spot Gary was in a little trouble with lyrics, and the way I heard the recovery bit was the line ‘they pulled the plug and now you’re f*cked’ instead of ‘stuck’ – but as I say, it was probably only in my head. [In fact, Gary sings the same words on the Spirit of Nøkken 'parental advisory' album]
Next song, The Idol, was interestingly met with quite notable applause in the start – I’m more inclined to say it was the reaction to the first songs in general than about people recognising their favourite tune. Being realistic, as Gary also pointed out at some point, many people present only knew three Procol songs (AWSoP, Homburg, Conquistador, or maybe four – a cover of Pilgrim’s Progress was also a hit in Estonia in some point). Still, there were also quite many ‘foreigners’ in audience as well – mostly because we are only three hours away from Helsinki, Finland – and my impression was that they were much more knowledgeable folk.
OK, time to give credit to Josh – Pandora’s Box was really a strong performance. Now, I’d like to say more about the performance of every band member but the truth is that about 75% of the time my eyes were fixed on Geoff’s guitar. This was surely one of these moments when you think ‘Ok, tomorrow I’m going to buy my first electric guitar’ (haven’t done it yet, though).
The Blink of an Eye was one of the songs I was really looking forward to (the others being Wizard Man and One Eye on the Future, but hey – you can’t have everything!). The song really reflects all the relevant emotions – sudden emptiness, confusion, disappointment – and all wrapped up with a beautiful melody bolstering courage and hope.
An interesting spot was about half way through the concert when Procol started a song which I actually couldn’t recognise from ‘first fifty milliseconds’. It was deep, a bit dark, powerful – I was actually under the impression for a little while that we are treated with a new song. It turned out to be Kaleidoscope of the new millennium. The new treatment really adds flavour.
So, just when I felt things couldn’t possibly get any better, another ‘dark intro’ started. Now, I’m really in a tough spot to find synonyms for all the praise ... let’s just say the song was Strangers in Space and it did kind of open new dimensions. Oh, and a fine memorable bass solo there.
Then there were more ‘usual suspects’ on the menu – thinking mainly about Simple Sister and Grand Hotel here. The cool (and scary!) thing here of course is that now Estonian girls also like to fight.
There was also humorous dialogue and laughter between songs. In one point Gary wondered, why is the concert hall named after Nokia (which of course comes from Finland, not Estonia) … to which Geoff played a little melody inspired by Nokia ringtone, and Gary asked if we actually produced anything of quality here in Estonia. The answer from the audience, I think, reflects well both the actual economic situation as well as a notable capacity for criticism in what makes a typical Estonian man – a loud ‘Nothing’! However, there was a lady who loudly disagreed with the majority and pointed out Skype (which was indeed coded by few local guys). Although Gary felt that it doesn’t count, as it is probably a teenager sitting home at his computer and his mother doesn’t let him to go to rock concerts yet.
And so the concert started moving towards the (rather predictable – although it is not meant to be taken with a negative shade) end when Gary dedicated the next song to all the people who are watching us from above. A Salty Dog was as emotional as ever – and the seagull sound is another of the little things that count. The song was met with huge applause and the guys were shortly back for an encore of Conquistador and ... yeah, you guessed it. What was novel, though, was a touching guitar solo in between the first encore and second verse, a great innovation. And crowd was, of course, in heaven.
In conclusion, a great gig, something I will probably remember fondly even fifty years from today. Thank you, Procol! I will keep one eye on the future J