Procol Harum

the Pale

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No Stiletto Shoes, Chiddingfold Club, Surrey, UK

Setlist: 21 December 2007

Graham Broad, drums; Gary Brooker, voice and piano; Dave Bronze, bass and vocal; Eric Clapton, guitar and vocal; Andy Fairweather Low, guitar and vocal, Frank Mead, saxes etc;

Support from Never the Bride.



1 Let the Good Times Roll The band is slow to take the stage, and there is a lot of banter about what mics are or aren't working. Neophytes in the audience near me think it 'extremely casual'. "This man from Procol Harlem, he just joins any group now, does he?" "No, I think this is his group." The same people were speedily won over by the flair and style of all the playing! Gary, lead vocal throughout, unless otherwise stated; Frank, tenor
2 Mary Ann Very sharp and tight. Frank, tenor
3 Poison Ivy Gary introduces this by taking us back to 1964 when he'd 'just left school', and thoughtfully told us the matrix number of the record, Parlophone 1063, before launching into the song. Dave and Andy, backing voices; Frank, tenor
4 If Paradise is Half as Nice This started with a mysterious guitar workout from Andy, who said 'We ought to get out more'. Andy changed to a dark guitar for only this song, as far as I remember. The song has two different tunes that are sung over the same chords: nice to hear Frank on tenor playing the lyrical tune as a counterpart to the stop-start vocal melody.
5 Shake Rattle and Roll Andy back to his cream-coloured guitar; Dave and Andy backing voices. Frank, tenor. After this number Gary declared that 'It sounded a bit thin' and he and Andy agreed that 'We need more men on the ground.' Enter Eric Clapton, looking very fit, youthful and relaxed. He played all the rest of the set until the encores, content to participate very unobtrusively unless called upon to solo.
6 Santa Claus is Back in Town Eric Clapton, guitar from this point onwards; Frank Mead's alto solo was superb, almost as though the presence of 'El' had spurred him to even higher passion and invention.
7 Shotgun Gary standing to sing and playing organ on the VK7 fastened above his Yamaha digital piano. EC only rhythm guitar; Andy backing vocal, Frank, alto. Really exciting playing.
8 Get up, stand up Clapton and Brooker both take brief solos; backing vocal from Dave and Andy. Nice featured bass passages, then a stylish and understated drum feature for Graham, soloing then being joined by Bronzie for a drum'n'bass section. Frank, tambourine and vibraslap
9 Route 66 The song had almost begun when 'El' asked what it was ... Andy sang lead and took a great solo (later commenting on the 60s Keith Richards influence). Frank, alto
10 Gin House Another excellent vocal from Andy, really soulful and heartfelt. . There was a couple in the audience whose surname, Ghinn, had had its 'h' added in Victorian times to distance the word from the curse of the gin house. Piercing and exciting high solo from EC. Frank, tenor
11 Willie and the Hand Jive Eric, principle voice, Gary and Andy backing and response voices. Despite being an extremely repetitive piece, this developed great power as it unfurled. Frank, shaker
12 Old Black Joe Gary returns to the lead vocal slot with this song I first heard him sing in Procol Harum in 1976. Dave and Andy backing voices: Frank, tenor
13 High School Confidential Gary clearly in his element in this fast and exciting song. Frank, tenor. At the end of the piece Gary gave Eric his Christmas present, a copy of the wittily-named No Stiletto Boot, being a eleven-track CD recorded live on 24 track (unknown to the performers at the time) at Club Riga in Southend this time last year. Gary exhorted everyone to give this as their Christmas presents: 20% of the price was going to an Old Folks' Home in Southend with which the band has personal connections. (The Children's Trust, Tadworth also netted 400 in the evening's raffle). Gary then left the stage 'for a beer'
14 Bright Lights, Big City Andy sang lead vocal on this song, which was held together by the two guitars, sounding oddly exposed without the glue of GB's piano. Frank, tenor
15 Blueberry Hill Gary came straight on stage and sat down as he played the unmistakable opening arpeggiations of this very well-received item. Lots of singing-along in the crowd, which was packed. The 'Usual Suspects' included Jens, Andre and Kari from Norway, Heidi from Switzerland, Michel from Jersey, Axel and Juliette from Denmark, Ian from Oman, Stefano and Andrea from Italy, Diane from France, John and Christine from London, Linda and Roland from Bristol; noticeably missing, One-Eye from Los Angeles. Frank Mead played tenor sax.
16 Lucille Frank, tenor, and a stirring solo break from Eric. Strong and highly characteristic piano and voice from the 'Procol Harlem' man.
17 You Can't Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover Crystal clear vocal tonight from the Commander on this song (and many others). Kudos to the sound man (Graham Ewins) and technical team (including Procol's Johnny and Ron) but it also seemed as though there was more precision and attack than ever in Brooker's performance. Frank, harp solo; some very tasty high bass work from Dave Bronze. Gary asks if there are any singers in the audience ('not counting Norwegians'!).
18 Goodnight Irene Andy sang lead on this, Gary and Dave filling in harmonies etc. Nice solos from Clapton (his last number of the evening) and Brooker, the latter ending with a Chico Marx trademark glissando and accent. Frank played alto. Band introductions included 'Our host, Gary Bad-Boy Brooker', who thanked us and urged us to go home very carefully through the murky fog.  Gary mentioned that this was to be the last year for the Shoes at the Chiddingfold Club, since it is apparently scheduled for demolition.
19 Putting on the Style First encore, after protracted appeals for more music. Eric Clapton did not return to the stage. Andy introduced Gary with a mention of his skiffle past in The Kingfishers, alluding to him as 'the only musical amphibian that I know'. Andy and 'Real Rude Brooker', acoustic guitars; Andy, lead voice, Gary and Andy, other voices, Frank, jaw's harp
20 Cigarettes, Whisky and
Wild, Wild Women
Gary, voice and piano; Andy, acoustic guitar; Dave and Andy, voices; Frank, harp
21 Wide-Eyed and Legless Third encore; there are calls for A Whiter Shade of Pale which Andy rebuffs with 'this isn't a request show'. Andy back to electric guitar; Frank, alto. This excellent hit from 1976 very well received, with great numbers of people singing along. Andy clearly extremely hot in his natty three-piece suit.
22 A Whiter Shade of Pale Fourth encore; Andy leaves the stage. Song played very slowly, starting with piano chords over which Gary sings bits of When a Man Loves a Woman, and No Woman no Cry. Two verses, cadenza ending; initially Graham leans right back and accompanies solely with the high-hat. No trace of the famous organ melody but an excellent soprano sax solo from Frank. On the very last couple of chords, Gary adds some organ with one hand over his piano ending. All these four men have played this song as 'Procol Harum' at different times: never together before.


The previous night's show

Procol Harum concerts in 2007: index page

Brooker concerts outside Procol Harum Letter from the charity, and from Gary Brooker


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