Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at The Barbican

Douglas Adams introduces Procol Harum

Ladies and Gentlemen ...

Anybody who knows me will know what a big thrill it is for me to be here to introduce this band tonight.

I've been a very, very great fan of Gary Brooker and Procol Harum ever since nearly thirty years ago when they suddenly surprised the world by leaping absolutely out of nowhere with one of the biggest hit records ever done by anybody at all ever under any circumstances. They then surprised the world even more by suddenly turning out to be from Southend and not from Detroit as everybody thought.

They then surprised the world even more by their complete failure to bring out an album within four months of the single, on the grounds that they hadn't written it yet. And then in a move of unparalleled marketing shrewdness and ingenuity they also actually left A Whiter Shade Of Pale off the Album. They never did anything straightforwardly at all as anyone who's ever tried to follow the chords of A Rum Tale will know.

Now they had one very very particular effect on my life. It was a song they did, which I expect some of you here will know, called Grand Hotel. Whenever I'm writing I tend to have music on in the background, and on this particular occasion I had Grand Hotel on the record player. This song always used to interest me because while Keith Reid's lyrics were all about this sort of beautiful hotel - the silver, the chandeliers, all those kind of things, but then suddenly in the middle of the song there was this huge orchestral climax that came out of nowhere and didn't seem to be about anything. I kept wondering what was this huge thing happening in the background? And I eventually thought ... it sounds as if there ought to be some sort of floorshow going on. Something huge and extraordinary, like, well, like the end of the universe. And so that was where the idea for The Restaurant at the End of the Universe came from - from Grand Hotel.

Anyway, enough from me. We're in for a great night tonight. There's no band quite like them. And tonight I'm glad to say the London Symphony Orchestra is going to sit in with them...[audience laughter & applause]. So I'd like for you to welcome please - the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chameleon Arts Chorus, Procol Harum, the Conductor, Nicholas Dodd, and Gentleman - Scholar-Musician, and I believe also Rear Admiral - Gary Brooker. Thank you very much.

[applause applause applause] ... [into Conquistador] ... [In fact Gary did not wear his naval tails on this occasion]

Read how Douglas Adams introduced Procol Harum at Redhill, 19 July 1997

More pages about the Barbican concert

Douglas Adams interviews Gary Brooker

BtP's page about Douglas Adams

'Hitchiker': a biography of Douglas Adams



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