Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum in Greve, Copenhagen, December 2001

Jonas Söderström reports

What an end to a fantastic Procol year! Not absolutely the best concert, but have a look at the setlist: twenty songs, some heard very seldom, if ever!

The hall in Greve, Copenhagen was almost full - possibly around 1,500 very enthusiastic people. The band seemed to enjoy themselves too, but there was a little more seriousness to the evening – perhaps coming from the fact that the show was recorded for television. Matt Pegg was restrained, not his usual happy, giggling figure. Gary didn't pull quite as many crack-pot jokes as usual, though he joked about the name of the location:

- We're not quite sure where we are ... are we in a place called 'grief'? (laughter)
- Or is it ... 'grave'? (more laughter)
- Geoff Whitehorn over there (pointing), he lives in Gravesend, which must be like this ... only worse!

Perhaps because of the TV recording, I had the feeling the boys where playing safe, at least in the beginning. A few of the early numbers - at least Bringing Home The Bacon and Homburg were a little slower than usual. "Heavy-footed" is the Swedish expression that came to mind.

When introducing both Holding On and As Strong as Samson, Gary mentioned the sad fact that although these songs were written several years ago the state of the world was still much the same.
- 'Written 25 years ago and you don't have to change the words at all ... it's still the same,' he said during a long improvisation over a series of minor chords, eventually leading on to the new arrangement of As Strong as Samson.

ipThe recorded version of Samson is probably my number one Procol Harum song ever. The new version is very different; many don't like it at all, but I must admit that it "works" on stage, as a live number. There is a relentless drive in the bass that rather effectively underlines the words - to this non-professional listener's ears.

The seriousness notwithstanding, there was a lot of good playing on Holding On, Beyond the Pale, Repent Walpurgis, New Lamps for Old, Grand Hotel of course ... . And the treat of hearing some very rare numbers. It was very special for me to hear Fires (Which Burned Brightly), never mind some serious fumbling at the beginning (I doubt we will see that number in any eventual broadcast). I enjoyed A Christmas Camel very, very much; it's one of the best songs we hear too seldom.

The sound in the hall was not that good: a bit sharp-edged and rattly, especially in the faster and louder songs. At least where I was sitting, numbers like Memorial Drive and Piggy Pig Pig didn't come across quite as well as New Lamps for Old or A Salty Dog (which, Gary informed us, is also a drink: vodka and grapefruit juice).

The Hand that rocks the Hammond

Anyway, I think the sound may well be very good on the recording tapes. The TV recording was VERY ambitious and professional: three fixed cameras in the hall, one moving camera in front of the stage, and two cameramen on stage during the whole concert. One stage camera on Gary the whole time, and the other cameraman constantly following Matthew's fingers on the Hammond. (Which made me think "That's the kind of bonus material I'd like to see on the DVD issue - the whole concert on Maf's keyboard . We could call it 'The hand that rocks the Hammond' ...)

When the show was to be aired, no information could be obtained. Since the recording must be a rather expensive thing, I suppose (or hope) that any normal production company would try to sell it, or air it, as much as possible to get fair returns.

If we eventually can find out the name of someone in charge of selling, at the relevant company, why not stage a little polite campaign to point out the big interest in the band in the US, and to mention all the loyal fans who haven't had the same possibility as we lucky Europeans to see this excellent band perform their unique music during this very gratifying year!

As the end of the year draws near, I'd just like to add my personal thanks to Procol Harum ... one or two years ago I never would have dreamt that I should be able to listen to this wonderful music five times in a year! Thank you - Gary, Matthew, Mark, Matt, Geoff - and Diane, John G, Mark Lundquist, and anybody else involved in bringing my favourite band back on stage!

Procol Harum concerts in 2001: index page

Index of Danish dates, 2001

Thanks, Jonas Söderström, for the banner!

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