Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at Odense, Denmark

Setlist 23 September 2017

Brooker, Dunn, Pegg, Phillips, Whitehorn
with Matilde Isabella Arenholt Mosekjaer
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I Told on You
Perfect opener. Gary wearing his -self-designed black straw hat

Pandora’s Box
The show started at 9pm, an hour later than elsewhere; not really what the band wanted, with an overnight bus ride to Hengelo in prospect as soon as they leave the stage. GB is running his watch an hour late so as to avoid any onstage confusion

Man with a Mission
‘ … and on bass, paying the bass parts in fact, Matt Pegg … I know you can’t clap … you’ve all got a glass of something in the other hand’. There were three bars serving in the one compact auditorium.

(You) Can’t Say That
Witnessing this from side-stage, hearing Matt Pegg’s amp and monitor, it was at last fully apparent how brilliantly he delivers these brilliant lines.

Sunday Morning
Gary comments on the onstage heat. ‘Take off that jacket,’ shouts a punter. ‘Sounds like my wife,’ says GB. He goes on to promise a song with a nautical flavour … people call out for seagulls, and GB introduces the onstage crow instead. Then we get a rousing ‘Hooray and up she rises’ … leading into …

Whaling Stories
Full of energy and invention. GB sings the ‘daybreak’ section with great character and poignancy; final note after ‘wake’ is falsetto

Business Man
Throbbing along. Thomas on the monitor mixer drumming along to this one

‘It’s nice to get in touch with the flora and fauna of this planet.’ GB wonders if anyone understands this and explains that it’s Latin. I wonder how often other bands mention Latin quite so often on stage? The next song is dedicated to ‘Our friends and all the lost souls of music  … from Cleopatra’s lute player, who was a lyre/liar, right up to someone we haven’t heard about yet

A Salty Dog
Terrific performance, though lost on the boisterous throng talking, even shouting to each other, at the bar in the back of the hall … which was packed, standing, and otherwise hugely attentive.


Fires (Which Burnt Brightly): video clip here
Mathilde had not originally planned to come to Odense but her triumph on stage at Randers would have changed anybody’s mind; at the pre-show meal The Commander asked if she’d like to come on again and scat with the band (in fact she sings ‘Noo-noo’ rather than the originals’ ‘Ma-la-la’). Her assent was swift. GB produced an exiguous black, clinging garment which -- though it did fit her – was judged too likely to result in ‘wardrobe malfunction’ mid-song, so Mathilde performed in the clothes she’d arrived in. Her entry on stage, unravelling of the mic cable, and subsequent performance again captivated the audience; after the song she embraced GW and GB, exited stage right, where … somewhat Spinally, there was in fact no way out. That aside, it was a second memorable performance from 'our adopted girl from Aarhus', and no doubt her contribution will be eagerly awaited at Hengelo, and its absence mourned.

Last Chance Motel
‘The man in this song is not really me. I’ve been married longer than I’ve been playing music’

‘The ceiling was too small’.

‘If you have any requests, for us to play next time we’re in Odense, there’s small box … looks like a litter bin.’ ‘We’re not stopping yet … we’re as fresh as little babies.’ Then a Sean Connery impression leading into …

Image of the Beast
At the bit about ‘all his tricky movements’ GB’s right hand left the piano to make a circling thumb-and-forefinger … a clear parody of D Trump, though GB’s fingers are of normal, non-laughable size. The band had been listening, repeatedly, to the online Melania Trump song before the show … this may have influenced the thought-patterns here. The Procol number went very well, though the slightly indecisive ending left the audience uncertain when to clap. Next came a satirical swipe at music listeners who rely on phones and tinny earbuds; and at Band and Olufsen, who no longer make turntables despite the fact that ‘25% of sales of music products are vinyl.’ ‘Bang out of order,’ quipped GW, forever at the ready to feed good lines to the Commander.

‘Any Faroe Islanders here tonight? No? Nobody travels any more …’

Consummately done. Those vocal harmonies sound terrific close-up

[Tiny bit of The Emperor’s New Clothes, following a mention of Hans Christian Anderson. ‘I expect everybody who comes here mentions him. Except Chuck Berry. He probably talks about himself’]

Grand Hotel
GW has been ringing the changes during the first BV … Hotel Strand, Hotel Randers … and tonight ‘Hotel Plaza’. Tonight the second verse had unusually high kicking energy; GB sang along wordlessly and open-mouthed during the ‘mandolin’ section, in which GD’s mallet work on the snare drum was tasty. Verse three featured some climactic bass-runs; the band is so relaxed now, everyone’s in ‘extra-interest’ mode so the recital remains consistently intriguing even if one’s heard the band night after night.

GB then introduces the band’s ‘familiars’ or ‘onstage spirit guides’ … Josh’s sea-captain hat, the Union flag, the golden skull and again the crow … whose name is sometimes ‘Charlie’ and sometimes ‘Henry’. Or perhaps they’re travelling with a pair of crows which, like child-actors, alternate in the one role?


The Only One
As this number started someone in the audience interrupted with a holler of ‘Get the lady from Aarhus on again’. Mathilde did not reappear, and when Gary restarted the song he supplied the deficiency by singing ‘If it wasn’t for that small mistake / Mathilde wouldn’t be about.’ A tremendous version of the song, with glorious vocal and a long, wistful, bluesy playout. Sensational.

People shout for ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. GB always affects to assume that noisy heckling-persons are Norwegian, and never fails to furnish them with an unanswerable retort. Tonight’s was simply, ‘If you swung Norway round on an axis of Stockholm, Tromso would be at Rome.’

A Whiter Shade of Pale
Mathilde bopping in the wings, singing the 1967 organ counterpoint. Band on peerless form: superb ending to a high-energy, high-subtlety concert. Customers at the merchandise stall can’t really believe what they’ve heard all evening. ‘How many of these are the real Procol Harum?’ ‘They are ALL the real Procol Harum,’ is the only possible response.


17 songs altogether: 1 From Procol Harum   from Shine on Brightly
1 From A Salty Dog 1 From Home   from Broken Barricades
2 From Grand Hotel   From Exotic Birds and Fruit 1 from Procol's Ninth
  From Something Magic 1 From The Prodigal Stranger   from The Well's on Fire
8 From Novum 2 non-album tracks    


Procol dates in 2017 | Booking

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