Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum in London

Monday 24 November 2014

Gary Brooker, Dave Colquhoun, Geoff Dunn, Matt Pegg, Josh Phillips
BBC Concert Orchestra • Crouch End Festival Chorus • David Firman

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Simple Sister
Grand Hotel
Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)
Missing Person (band only)
Something Magic
Broken Barricades
Symphathy for the Hard of Hearing
A Salty Dog (dedicated to Alvin Stardust and Jack Bruce, and also to Geoff Whitehorn)


A Salty Dog opening again, to remedy 'a technical fault'.
Wall Street Blues (band only)
Nothing But the Truth
Into the Flood
A Whiter Shade of Pale (exceptional vocal, fantastic reception from crowd)
An Old English Dream
The Blink of an Eye (segue into ...)
Grand Finale



Photo (by Chris Frances) shows Dave Colquhoun, David Firman, Gary Brooker, Matt Pegg, Geoff Dunn, Josh Phillips at the curtain-call

17 songs altogether: 1 From Procol Harum 1 from Shine on Brightly
1 From A Salty Dog   From Home 2 from Broken Barricades
2 From Grand Hotel 1 From Exotic Birds and Fruit   from Procol's Ninth
1 From Something Magic   From The Prodigal Stranger 3 from The Well's on Fire
2 non-album tracks 2 Brooker solo items 1 Not yet properly recorded in studios

An interesting set, specially given the newly orchestrated Blink and Dream, and the absence of Whaling Stories (and perhaps also of Pandora's Box, a strong hit single in the UK). Wonderful playing from Orchestra and singing from Chorus, richly detailed and well amplified (for some tastes, a little too loud for the band at times). Procol Harum themselves: major kudos to Dave C who stood in the shoes, but not in the shadow, of the great Geoff Whitehorn: he took some commanding solos, his ensemble playing was discreet and tasty, and his rapport with the rest of the band and with an exceptionally warm crowd was lovely to see. All this, on two days' band rehearsal, and crutches. As GB said, 'If he plays like this ... I'd like to hear him without a broken ankle' (or words to that effect). Josh was great, his subtlety of registration more apparent than usual: perhaps he was filling in more, perhaps he was revealed by the less saturated texture of the lead guitar. Geoff D had a great show, specially notable on Conquistador, Symphathy  and Fires. Matt not only played his own part but cued and coached Dave through the intricacies of the arrangements: a major contribution to the success of the night. And Gary Brooker, MBE: he sang with terrific passion and finesse, he played lively piano, he joked with the audience (apart from a BBC voice-over at the start, he was also the compère) and he was received with outstanding applause by the sold-out theatre. It will be very interesting indeed to hear how this show is mixed for transmission on 28 November, what's in and what's out, and how much of the audience hollering (and of our tragically ungroovy clapalong attempts in the Flood hoedown) is audible. Procol Harum have played so little in their native land in recent years: there seems a very good chance that this concert, heard in thousands of homes all over the country, will open people's ears to the unique entertainment that overseas audiences have been enjoying down the decades. Bravo to Procol and their stagefellows, and to conductor David Firman: and very best wishes to Geoff  Whitehorn, who hasn't hitherto missed a gig since he joined the band (except when contractually committed elsewhere at the time of the Redhill Party). While Geoff texted BtP, from his hospital ward, that he was 'bitterly disappointed at not being there tonight' he certainly was 'there in spirit' as he put it: he was surely in the thoughts of all who have previously heard him play these great pieces. Geoff's text also thanked everyone for the 'Get Well Soon' messages. Even without this Pillar of Procoldom, the band turned in a proud and thrilling concert, and the assembled fans (in the pub before and afterwards, and during the show) had an excellent time. Lastly, Big Thanks to manager Chris Cooke, who arranged advance booking for confirmed Palers. After our privileged period, the general public snapped up the remaining seats in very short time. It must be a source of great satisfaction to all concerned that by the end of the evening the Procol alchemy had transformed this general public into confirmed fans: the standing ovations, wall to wall, were the proof.


Procol dates in 2014 | Booking | Another Procol show with Dave Colquhoun on guitar, here

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