Henrik Gøttrup writes from Lejre, Denmark, to BtP (January 2011):
So Procol Harum is back in Denmark and all the concerts are sold out. That’s hardly surprising, but can this magnificent band really continue to make the event something special or different?
The crowd in the Falkoner Centre was up for the occasion. It was obvious from the start that this would be a grand evening. There was a feeling of deep love and affection for the band. The air was breathing with expectancy.
And did Procol Harum respond ? They did!
Procol Harum playing with Danish Radio Underholdningsorkester and Vocal Ensemble wasn’t just a repeat of the Ledreborg Concerts. The setlist was different, the sound was different, but it all melded into a tight unity of very gifted musicians enjoying themselves and entertaining the audience with a string of pearls from the Procol Harum catalogue, and two gems.
Personally I’ve always found that Barnyard Story and Whaling Stories are in a class of their own. Which says a lot when you consider Procol Harum also gave us A Whiter Shade of Pale, Conquistador et al.
My good friend George Lovell (he and I are Barnyard Brothers) mailed me some time ago that he heard Barnyard Story live for the first time, and I’ve envied him since. But now I have something on him: Barnyard Story with a full orchestra and choir! And an arrangement that made me cry from the intro to finish. A shocking experience, five mind-blowing minutes never to be forgotten. This little gem of a song with lyrics and tune so finely balanced simply stands out as the finest Procol Harum-song till now.
I had George in my heart all through those five minutes of doubt and clarification. I’m sure I saw other members of the audience in tears too. This song simply needs to recorded with strings and choir! Please, Gary Brooker, listen to this plea.
To follow was Whaling Stories, another dark and mysterious song with a finale of clarification. What more can you demand? These two songs simply stand out. Overwhelmingly performed with chaos, aggression and purification that leaves you breathless. Very few rock bands can boast of having made something just remotely comparable.
Now I know that death is not my cure, and when I have to go I shall see my wake. I’ve never felt so at peace.
Thank you Procol Harum – and do come back to Denmark for more concerts.
Thanks Henrik! And the
illustration comes courtesy of Christian Zwainz from Vienna