26 September 1991
Steve Felix writes to 'Beyond the Pale' (March 2005)
I just read the review of this show that you have posted (from Newsday) and felt compelled to write to you.
I saw an ad that Procol Harum was playing in New York. Called and found out that it was sold out. Called Bill Graham Presents office in NY to ask about buying a ticket, I was a long time fan, etc. A very nice girl said the show was sold out but I should check back the next day, which was the day of the show. That morning I decided to write a letter, actually to Matthew Fisher, telling him of my long time interest in the band, having opened for them in 1971 and how I planned to see this show come hell or high water. Faxed the letter to Bill Graham offices.
Without confirmation of any sort about the ticket I went into New York anyway. Found out from my estranged wife that Bill Graham's office had called my house saying they had a ticket for me and I should go to the will-call window. I went to Town Hall and at the will-call window found that there was not only a ticket for the show but also a pass for the aftershow party across the street. Further, it was complimentary; I could not pay anything.
The show: It was very special for me. I cannot tell you about the set – I leave that for others – but I can tell you about the feeling. The audience was a Procol Harum-starved bunch of true believers who roared when the band took the stage and after each song. Of course there were requests yelled out between songs but the band played their hearts out and played many songs. I was in heaven even though I was there alone and had no one to share the experience with – except being part of that family of PH fans in the audience.
The show went on quite a long time. The band had done one encore and I felt satisfied and went to the men's room on my way out. As I got to the back of the theatre I heard the crowd roar: the band was coming back for another encore. I turned to get back to my seat as the drums set the scene for Repent! They played it like they had never played it before; such passion; such energy. When they finished the theatre thundered. It was extremely special.
I had never been to an aftershow party before. I went across the street
to the restaurant, upstairs to the private party area and just stood around.
After a while the band came in and I stood to the side and just watched what was going on. At some point Gary came up to me, extended his hand and said 'Hello, I saw that you were patiently waiting off to the side'. Keith was with him and we spoke for a few minutes. After that I walked over to the couch where Matthew Fisher was sitting and extended my hand to him but there really wasn't much interest from him in socializing so I left.
The next day I sent a box of candy to the girl, I think her name was Michelle, at Bill Graham Presents. She called me at work and said "Aa simple card of thanks would have been plenty but thanks for the box of candy. Did you get to talk with Matthew?". No, I replied. "Well, we gave him your letter and he said he was interested in meeting you!"
Well, isn't timing everything. But my good luck was in getting to see the show.
About two weeks later I got a post card, the one that was printed to publicize this concert featuring the cover of Prodigal Stranger. On it, in very recognizable handwriting was written, "Did you see them? Signed, A friend." Well I knew who it was from and through that I reconnected with an old friend and musical chum and we are still in good contact today (p.s. he did not see that tour: quel dommage).
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