Procol Harum

the Pale 

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A fan's Procol tour diary: North America

10 May 2003 : Al 'One-Eye' Edelist in New York

I arose Saturday morning ready to journey out to Long Island for the IMAC gig. As I ventured down to Little Italy for a big Italian meal at my favorite spot, Il Palazzo, I knew this day would be a perfect ending to my tour through Procoldom.

I took the train from Penn Station in Manhattan out to Huntington and cabbed it over to the IMAC.

As was also true for Bert Saraco, I was approached by a gentleman asking, "Mr Reid?" My reply: "Excuse me?" "Are you Keith Reid?" "No, sorry." I was caught by surprise!

I entered the IMAC around 6:10 to a soundcheck already under way. Soundcheck songs included: New Lamps For Old, middle instrumental passage of In The Autumn of My Madness, Twas Teatime at The Circus (twice), Get Out Of My Life Woman, Skip Softly (My Moonbeams), An Old English Dream. Tony is directing the house lighting tech and Graham is getting the monitor levels set. Simple Sister ending ... Bringing Home The Bacon ...

Palers in attendance that I was aware of: Marvin Chassman, Bert Saraco and the lovely Carina, Gary Shepard, George Lovell, Evan (sorry, I remember the face, but not the last name), Kerry Holloway, Scott Shepard, Al Semok, and (from Poland!) Mirek Plodzik.

As I had an extra seat next to me and my cousins, I offered it to Franky and mine to any of the band wives or girlfriends, as the seating setup for them didn't appear to be workable. Franky insisted that Carol Fisher go sit with me, which is what happened.

I had been invited to dinner with the band, their ladies, and the crew, but opted to have dinner with my cousins. Carol related that a couple had entered the Indian restaurant while they were seated, and that someone had recognized the man. After a bit of prodding, Matthew had walked over and had a 15 minute conversation with Richie Blackmore, who was coming to the show. Matthew and Blackmore had worked together with Lord Sutch in 1978.

Early on I had mentioned to Geoff that he had had a great couple of gigs, and he had told me it would get better as the week went on. Evidently, Geoff felt a bit overwhelmed by Blackmore's presence; and yet he gave the most remarkable exhibition of Procol Guitar I have ever heard from him. Hmmm!

A high-volume response as the band comes out and proceeds through the first few songs. And as the band came out, a guy yells out, "Hey, the new shit's great"!

A guy behind me says, "His voice kicks ass."

Gary jokes, "Anything called out, we don't play."

Then a guy yells, "Play anything! It rocks!"

Gary talks again about stocks and shares as the intro to Wall Street Blues. Gary rips with some great piano. A guy yells, "Lime Street Blues"!

Homburg is nailed with a beautiful Hammond passage at its conclusion. Robert's Box has a very full surround sound during the last instrumental passage. Nice crying guitar by Geoff during Fellow Travellers. Shine On Brightly is introduced as Il Tuo Diamante.

After the interval, major crowd response for Simple Sister; Shadow Boxed is tight; Quite Rightly So is awesome. The lead is nailed and the Hammond is awesome. Massive crowd response and a standing ovation. And a pre-song thanks to me [One-Eye sings Quite Rightly So on this record] with a surprisingly nice crowd response. I guess someone is reading these things!

Nightly response for Weisselklenzenacht with Geoff's best lead of the tour, imho.

The World Is Rich is rich in texture. Exceptional rhythms from Mark and Matt, and a beautiful crying lead from Geoff.

Prior to Beyond the Pale, Gary comments about writing songs and being inspired. He quips, "Sometimes it takes an hour to write a song!" to which the audience laughs. Gary asks if there is anyone present from Stavanger. Then speaking about Norway and BtP, he mentions he and BJ sitting on a mountain and BJ set himself on fire with a joint.

Procol Harum's technical crew: Jules, Graham, John and Tony

Gary improvises the opening to An Old English Dream, which again is brilliant as a live song. Conquistador shines with wonderful and fluid leads from Geoff and Maf. A Salty Dog is nailed with a feeling that seagulls are flying throughout the theater, a 360 degree sound. Massive standing ovations for Conquistador and A Salty Dog and as the band leaves the stage.

Encore, Whisky Train with the Mickey Jupp beginning and ending. Carol says it would be a perfect night if they would play A Whiter Shade Of Pale and Repent Walpurgis. Carol assured me that she didn't know the two songs would be played, but that she had a feeling.

Standing ovations for both and, what can I say ... Beyond The Pale!

Afterwards, the band came out for an autograph session. I went backstage and thanked everyone for their hospitalities with handshakes and hugs all around.

At that point, I felt a moment of loss as I will miss Beverly, who is coming Sunday for the last show, seeing my new friends again, and experiencing Procoldom live for one last time as the tour ends. George Lovell will phone me with the setlist, which will be posted here before you read this.

As we exited the theater a few more thanks and goodbyes. Then the Shepard Brothers and Alan Semok and I went across the street for some beers and colas.

Alan has taken me back to the City, and it's back to LA ...

--oe, the monocular one


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