Les Robin writes to BtP:
Most of the bands that came through LA in the 60s and 70s ended up playing at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino at some time or other. It was a nice, casual, Fillmore-type venue and bands always put on good shows for the appreciative crowds, many of whom, like us, drove the hour east from LA.
Procol Harum and Blodwyn Pig were on their Summer 1970 tour and played the night before at the Santa Monica Civic. For fans of Fillmore styled gigs, Santa Monica, with its reserved seating policy, wasn't the ideal. Especially, when we found out that Leon Russell was added to the Swing show, for an all-A&M Records-bands show, it was a no-brainer.
Blodwyn Pig opened with a good set. Actually, Leon Russell stole the show with his high energy set and pianistic antics, most notably, slamming
the piano lid down repeatedly during the finale of Delta Lady.
Poor Gary Brooker came out for the Procol set, checked the piano and mumbled something about "Leon's really put this thing out of whack!" If so, I didn't notice. Procol was doing a lot of the Home LP and I remember Robin Trower up front most of the time, soloing a-plenty, whether because of the piano situation or not I don't know.
In retrospect, it's not a stretch to see that Trower was blossoming into a major force who would need to leave the band to follow his own muse. At the time, however, we were just happy to see Procol Harum deliver a great set, culled mainly from Home and A Salty Dog.
Thanks, Les: further reminiscences of this sort are always happily received! Mail us!
More Procol concert reports at BtP | Pre-gig report