Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Lighter Shade of Impression

Mirek Plodzik - Poland

Polish / English translation by Darek Olak

'It seems as clear as yesterday ...' – a wet Friday afternoon when I got off the train; tense, slightly nervous and hypnotized. It wasn't yet the jitters which I was to share the day after, but something magic was in the air. 'It is only tomorrow' – I thought – somewhere in the center of Redhill, in Warwick Quadrant, at Harlequin Theater, an unusual concert was to take place.

Whether the best?

Seemingly it is difficult to answer or even impossible. But the answer may be only one – Procol Harum always plays just the same, simply the best! Every concert is great and can not be worse than previous one. Different – at most!

In spite of that fact, Redhill is not London. I managed to lose my way twice, thus I missed a meeting with Richard from Histon and Evyatar from Jerusalem. I remember very well the Friday banquet at Lakers Toby Hotel – when I drank one Guinness too much (maybe five, I do not remember) – and discussion with friendly Scotsman. I stubbornly maintained that concert in Warsaw, in 1992, had been better than in Glasgow. It was rubbish of course! Why? I had never been to Scotland and besides – Procol Harum always plays simply the best.

Always means everywhere.

Friday at Lakers Toby Hotel

From left: Tormod Ringvioll, Norway; Mirek Plodzik, Poland; Evan Wagshul, USA; Pat Keating, USA; Matilda Linder, Sweden.

From Saturday I remember sharply shining sun – surely reserved for that day by John and Diane from Shine On – spiritus movens of the whole venture. I recall good breakfast, hotel chats in the hall and a big book by James A Michener entitled Poland. I got it from friendly Stan from Essex. I have not read it until now. Then, in the company of my compatriot Mac – who lives in Derby – I went to the pub for a glass of beer. It was supposed to bring relief from our pain resulting from a long waiting for opening of the theater. 'A beer here is very heavy, do not drink too much,' – advised Mac. I did not take his advice and next morning I smarted from my recklessness. Additionally Umberto from Milan reciprocated sparing a bed in my room by treating me to another glass of beer.

I remember quite clearly smiling Ken from Nyack, clouds of cigarette smoke before the theater, hundreds of heads from all over the world talking in the language of Keith Reid and William Shakespeare, a whiteness of froth garlanding glasses of beer, colored – as if smiling – faces of balloons, high excitement and miserable appetite in a buffet. I also recall irritation for my poor English while a friend of Graham from Stechford made a date for a late dinner with Keith Reid's sister Sue ...

It is rather improper to mention about the concert itself! It was already described in deepest details by Roland from 'Beyond the Pale', Shine On, and many other great fun. And besides Procol Harum always plays simply the best! What is worthy to stress is fact that everybody who had not participated in the Procol Party should regret their mistake! Although during Broken Barricades the group still 'tuned' the instruments and Gary sung flat a little bit, but later on it was – as usual – great! And the audience? Unhappily it warmed up much slower than the band. Apparently a few months of waiting that evening had benumbed most of fun making us passive but faithful observers. The most important is that I heard 'my' In Held 'Twas In I and I was a witness of the unusual – twice as good original – performance of A Whiter Shade of Pale. Twice as good for twice as long! A Whiter Shade of Pale ... what else can be said about this pearl of rock not falling into repeating over again hackneyed truths? As a teen, I used to hate this record because – during playing it at the parties – other boys took the girls away from me.

I can not dance up to now!

I clearly recall pushing my way through the crowd after the concert to get autographs. From time to time I dropped something ... a Dictaphone, or record cover, or pencil, or notebook ... fancy! I have always been laughing at Inspector Clouseau and Lieutenant Colombo! I have seen with my own eyes (within a reach of my hand) 'the gods' from 'my first album' – the gray cover of Ninth. I could shake a hand of every one of them during the banquet. I wish somebody had arranged spiritistic sιance to let us have a chat with BJ, though his spirit was everywhere then! It was a great time! Chris disarmed me with his charming 'infantile' smile, Gary with his staring hidden behind double guard of high-mindedness and humor, Mick and Alan with self-effacing, Matt 'Baby' with an innocent glance and Franky with an inexhaustible galactic energy and with good looks. Fortunately, I took a lot of snapshots since my memory is fragile and as time goes on there are only remnants of memories; facts turns into hazy mist of the past ...

It is good then to take a lot of such photographs to make sure for the hundredth time that it was not a mirage then at that July night – to ascertain that one has really been there.

More Redhill anniversary pieces

A different translation of this article

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