Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at Montreal, 3 May 2003

'Saw the fire' : concert review by Michel Seymour

Michel Seymour writes to BtP from the Département de Philosophie at the Université de Montréal:

It was amazing. I was swept away. I saw the fire in Gary Brooker's eyes.

He kept on making jokes. It did not escape us that he was in very good spirits. I was relieved to see the crowd applauding. The Montreal Spectrum was full. The music was exhilarating. The five lads knew that they were winning us all. We were all on the same wavelength. Even very well known pieces such as The Piper's Tune and Beyond The Pale took us by surprise, more than ever interpreted as pub songs.

Gary said he did not find their new record in the shops of Montreal, but this did not seem to trouble him. He may have seen the important Procol display at HMV record store. The fact of the matter is that Procols are doing fine. They are alive and well and kicking like never before.

Gary's good spirits might also be explained by the sell outs everywhere on their North American tour. They are achieving this without adequate publicity ! Imagine what would happen if their record was well distributed !

Before the show, I somehow found myself listening to Procol's Ninth. I remember that, at the time, I was not entirely convinced by this album. A big mistake of course ... With brass and rhythm and blues, it was closer to me as a North American and so was less immediately appealing to my ears. But like an old wine, Procol's Ninth is now full-bodied, rich in flavour and I realize that it contains only extraordinary Brooker/Reid pieces !

The same remarks apply to The Well's on Fire, except that I am now less inclined to make the same mistakes and I am more favourably disposed to discover (or rediscover) my North American roots. (Notice that Bob Dylan himself is doing just that these days.)

So the new Procol album is one that grows upon you. On first hearing, the more rhythmic pieces may sound like miniatures. Nothing to make a big fuss about. But as we listen to the tracks and to the lyrics over and over again, the pieces grow and eventually become overwhelmingly beautiful. Keith's words turn into big sculptures that we can contemplate . A song like Shadowboxed is nothing less than a masterpiece to me now. Yesterday's interpretation revealed once more that the music written by Gary causes Keith's words to explode and reveal their true meaning.

Matthew Fisher's Weisselklenzenacht was simply mind-blowing. A twister !

Geoff Whitehorn was electrifying. Matt Pegg was intensely engaged in all the songs. Mark Brzezicki's drumming was excellent. I came out of this concert in a state of grace. Have Faith Palers ! The best is yet to come !

'Little by little, the wheel turns around' ...

The setlist from this concert

Procol Harum concerts in 2003: index page

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