Beyond the Pale
Just a couple of notes on Procol's ArtPark concert in Lewiston, NY on July 17.
I have forwarded photos to Roland and hopefully they will be up soon [though Roland is away from BtP until late August]. Several friends that previewed the photos wanted to know what Geoff Whitehorn's "regalia" had written on it. So you know in advance, on his shirt is written, 'Yellow Rat Bastards NYC."
Lewiston, NY is a quaint town situated on the escarpment (a land formation) carved out by the glaciers of the last ice age that also created The Great Lakes and Niagara Falls (seven miles south). It survives on tourism begotten by its history as a last stop on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe havens for black slaves attempting to escape to freedom in Canada (across the Niagara River from Lewiston) in the 1800s and its history as the first battle in upstate NY in The War of 1812 with the British troops in Queenston, Canada and the American troops in Lewiston, NY. I'm not sure if The War of 1812 is mentioned in the history books in Great Britain. In any event, we're all friends now and if you ever get to Niagara Falls, it's worth the short trip up to see Lewiston, NY and Queenston, Ontario, Canada.
The concert took place in an outdoor amphitheater on the banks of the lower Niagara River (lower meaning below Niagara Falls). Though we met mostly Yes fans at this concert, it was a good crowd, good people, good enough to let me squeeze in front of them time and again to get a photo shot I wanted. I don't really have time to talk about the Yes performance but I will say I quite enjoyed it. They dutifully rendered their "greatest hits" and it was really nice to see Steve Howe perform at a high level. That being said, I thought Procol Harum was much the better band. Although Procol was limited by time (they were checking watches before Conquistador) Yes was limited by an oncoming electrical storm and was unable to perform an encore. End of concert! Everyone go home or take shelter in the building! The storm never hit, though there was lightning in the distance.
Now that the band has moved on, I can tell you that they spent Monday and Tuesday nights 16 and 17 July in Canandaigua, NY (a small city just south-east of Rochester, NY. and about three hours from Lewiston). This according to Geoff Whitehorn, and it means that whoever is handling logistics [Chris Cooke] is really on top of things. Instead of driving from Englewood, NJ to Lewiston, NY (ten hours) and then to Bethlehem, PA (nine hours) they cut nine hours off their post- performance travel and got to spend both nights in one place and a nice place at that. Brilliant! I'm sorry those of you from other states and across the pond will have to MapQuest this to see the logic.
As I reported earlier, Gary looked ... let's say a bit worn. But if you closed your eyes and just listened, you would never know he had undergone such trauma such a short time ago. His voice and his performance were as phenomenal as ever. My applause went up not only for his performance that evening but also to a man whose stamina and persistence were on display even during his hospitalisation when his main concern seemed to be missing the tour dates in South Africa. Let's hope he can maintain his legendary stamina and continue to feel even better as this tour continues.
Though I know we in the US hold a special place in Gary Brooker's heart (and I know in a couple other band members' hearts) it's hard to know how many more times Procol Harum will come back to the United States. I suggest, if they are headed your way, anywhere near your way, you drop what you're doing and find the time to see what you may find is the best band of our generation (or at least of your parents' generation if you look like some of the "kids" I saw at ArtPark).
Cheryl and I had a wonderful time. Lewiston is a great little town, Procol Harum is a great band and life is good 'till we meet again. Hopefully it will be with orchestra and chorus in Rochester, NY (but maybe it will be at Knuckleheads).
Procol dates in 2012 | Setlist