Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at Aalborg, Denmark

Lars Aare in Nordjyske • 17 March 2013

Pia (the translator here) and Mogens Vinther write to BtP:
'Here's a not-so-flattering review of the Procol Harum concert in Aalborg. Apparently the journalist isn't very much into Procol Harum, but nevertheless ended up giving the show 4 out of 6 stars. The newspaper didn't even bother sending a photographer to take new shots from the show but instead used an archive photo from the show in 2011.' (thanks, both)


One just had to deal with how old Gary Brooker has become, and at the same time try to ignore that the guitarist Geoff Whitehorn looks like a long-haired copy of AaB-manager Lynge Jacobsen. (1)

The first issue was quickly forgotten when Brooker opened his mouth. He sings like a dream considering his age of 67. The latter was a matter of distraction throughout the concert. But never mind.

Procol Harum is a nice ensemble even though there are no original members than the aforementioned Brooker. It is always a pleasure to see and in this case to hear competent people do a professional job. And accompanied by DR Underholdningsorkestret and choir the concert in Aalborg became the fantastic sound experience as expected.

So far so good.

Then you can discuss whether the chosen songs from the back-catalogue are the right ones to be arranged with strings, the wind and choir.

One of my personal PH-favorites is the non-pretentious and rocking Simple Sister which I shall always prefer played as a pure rock’n’roll song. On the other hand the whole set-up around the classic A Salty Dog formed a synthesis right from the onstage decoration – white sails hanging from the ceiling to understate this particular song’s maritime sound – over to the beautiful catholic hymn sung by the choir, and to Brooker’s interpretation of Keith Reid’s wonderful text: “All hands on deck, we’ve run afloat! I heard the captain cry.”

One of Procol Harum’s strong points has been the ability to sneak in and out of different musical genres. The concert was a good proof of that.

We also had the big symphonic rocking pieces such as Grand Hotel with violin solos and all. The already-mentioned rocking Simple Sister, the bluesy  Whaling Stories and the soul-swinging Into the Flood with a single chord from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony sneaked into the arrangement.

And of course we had their signature song  A Whiter Shade of Pale – which in fact was the weakest element of the evening.

It was all in all a wonderful and lovely ride down Memory Lane for us who remembers Procol Harum from the 70s when they were big.

On the other hand that was that. The fact that Procol Harum play with a symphony orchestra isn’t anything new. They have done this since the beginning of their career. It is only two years ago they visited Aalborg with the DR Underholdningsorkestret and this time there were empty seats in Aalborghallen.

Finally it’s a sign of too much routine when a group of hardcore fans have their rituals during the concerts. At a Procol Harum concert it’s a must that they shout “more” when Gary Brooker sings, in A Whiter Shade of Pale,  “The crowd called out for more.” This is fun the first time but a bit pathetic in the long run: similar to the biscuits thrown on stage when Shu-bi-dua plays Hvalen Valborg.(2)

“If this is rock I hope I’ll live to do it forever”, Gary Brooker said in Aalborghallen. We are many who wish this for him even though it is over thirty years since Procol Harum contributed with something essential to music.

Text under the photo: Procol Harum and DR Underholdningsorkestret visited Aalborghallen two years ago and the band played at the Skagen Festival last year. This time there were empty seats at the venue so now it seems that the old chaps are over and done with in this area.

Translator's comments:

1)      (1) He is the manager of our local football team. Speaking of hair it seems that the journalist commenting on Geoff’s hair is quite bald himself, and never ever will be able to grow anything like it  –  and certainly not as a 60+ year-old ;-)

2)     (2)  A Danish pop group.

Thanks, Pia!

Procol dates in 2013

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