Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Procol Harum at Las Vegas, USA

Michael Harper reports Friday 17 August 2012


PROCOL HARUM, Live at The Pearl, The Palms Casino, Las Vegas
 
Some Closing Night Notes:
 
First of all it was really, really good to get to see the boys play again indoors, where they could finally get away from the cursed daylight hours and actually enjoy having the darkness surround them, as well as have some crisp stage lighting for added effect ... That said, the Pearl at the Palms Casino is a very good concert venue, with really fine sight lines, and the sound was very loud, and full, but well-mixed and clear...
 
Geoffrey Whitehorn (Grave's End!) got to really shine again on Wall Street Blues -- his guitar solo here seems to be getting even more guttural and nasty than before -- which begs the question: Does GW ever play the same solo exactly the same...? I'd say no, I'm guessing that he's always tinkering with them, and his playing always seems to be very much in the moment...
 
Before I go on here, I should add that the Commander was very much in a talkative mood throughout The Pearl set -- much, much more so than the other show I saw recently in the Detroit area -- and it was also obvious that he was showing the real effects of vocal wear-and-tear that come from having done 27 live shows in roughly five weeks' time. And Gary immediately knew it, too -- early on, he commented aloud (over his open mike) to GW, "God, it's going to be a night, isn't it...?"
 
And now, a typical song intro: "Let's go back to 1967... We heard this song was #5 in America, so we hopped on a plane... We got here, and no one ever heard of it... Here's Homburg ..." 
 
During A Salty Dog, keeping with his apparent difficulties this very same night, Gary ends up having to improvise some lyrics as well as his vocal phrasing during the refrain (What?!), and then, the next time around, he repeats those same changes verbatim, which, in a way, is actually kind of brilliant on his part. (And I almost forgot:  Since the last time around, the boys seem to have added a deep, bass heavy, humpback whale sound at the beginning and the end of the song -- apparently from Josh's synthesizer -- which then segues into GW's standard, piercing notes... A nice touch, I might add...)
 
Then, back to the set: After another slower-than-usual, truly grind-it-out performance of Simple Sister, everything suddenly stops, as there seems to be some confusion on stage, as Gary stands up from his keyboard, and starts yelling at his band mates -- wait, wait, The Commander is calling an audible -- The Commander is calling an audible! Meanwhile, the audience gets antsy and starts yelling out requests -- The Devil Came From Kansas, Whaling Stories, whatever -- but then Gary sits right back down, and starts pounding out the extended, bluesy "Hey, bartender..." opening for Whisky Train, and just like that, Gary is absolutely on fire, back in all his glory, and the band knows it too, and they happily roar their way through the song, full tilt boogie, ending it all with a short, but thundrous drum solo by Geoff Dunn.
 
Gary then plays a nice, extended piano intro into AWSoP -- and I should add here that his keyboard playing was spot-on all night long -- and the crowd really responds at the end of the song with a very lengthy and boisterous full standing ovation... Gary then introduces the band -- with each and every one of them getting a really nice ovation from the crowd (and then, in turn, GW sings The Commander's praises to the audience) -- and then Gary mentions that, since this is the last night of the tour, he wants to take the opportunity to name all the members of their crew individually and thank them personally for their efforts (another nice touch), and, of course, (last, but not least) "Chris, our manager."
 
Okay, purists, so the band didn't actually leave the stage (and then return) as is the case with most encores, but the length of the ovation for AWSoP -- and then Gary's subsequent heartfelt introductions comments made Conquistador feel like it was indeed a separate entity from the set itself, an encore if-you-will, and the song at its end resulted in another lengthy standing ovation, so the boys then were able to take extended bow at the front of the stage, and then, just like that, they were gone...
 
In the end, Procol's set ran over by about five minutes -- 64 minutes and some change, more or less -- so hopefully the powers-that-be won't see fit to fine them for their, um, indulgence... (Hey, Yes got to play for almost two and a half hours at The Pearl, which was about two hours too long, if you ask me...)
  
Take care,
 
Michael
 

Procol dates in 2012 | More from this author, this tour

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