Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at Bristol, UK

Setlist 16 May 2017

Brooker, Dunn, Pegg, Phillips, Whitehorn
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I Told on You [More electric piano inventiveness, even. And somehow Gary's vocal delivery makes the contemporary point about the threat from radicalised individuals even more telling]
Homburg ['Something from Cinquante years ago'. Like AWSoP the final round of the chords is presented in a variant, step-semitonal manner]
Nothing but the Truth [A powerful and perhaps tiring number! The words may have been slightly mixed, but it was a great performance]
Last Chance Motel
['I'd rather get mixed up with a woman than with a bunch of Danish sailors' ... it did make sense at the time. Very  good backing vocals. How many popular songs use the word 'ostracised'?]
Pandora's Box
[a favourite with the crowd. 'While horses ride ... ' was the opening lyric. Band very animated and enjoying themselves. Great bass sound, slightly raised in tonight's mix by the excellent Bunny Warren]
As Strong as Samson [An interesting preamble which included the idea that '... we've got patience with most things except Nicola Sturgeon ... '. Great performance, confident and solid]
Sunday Morning
[Gary again introduces Novum in a super-deep voice. 'I could have been in The Ten Commandments, he quipped with a knowing air, as if he'd read this piece. This song gets a clap almost before it's started]
[starts with GB playing air guitar, Very vigorous, this outright rocker presumably took quite a few of the audience by surprise]
A Salty Dog
[Dedication (listen to mp3 here) included 'a girl from Bristol who's come back from Australia today to just see us ... and her name is Jane Clare.' A wonderful, moving performance]

A very good first half, played to a pretty full hall of people who clapped the starts of songs, knew when to wait before clapping at the end, and who generally radiated the warmth and spontaneity for which this city is noted. Gary introduced A Salty Dog with some ideas about Brunel's SS Great Britain, which he'd seen from the 'Beyond the Pale' cruise of Bristol docks the day before with a select handful of band members, crew and fans.  

Image of the Beast [the second half opens with a Hammond growl. This brilliant bashy tune is over too rapidly! Then a 'phone-call with a pretend Franky Brooker, heralded by ringtone piano stabs]
An Old English Dream
[once again, an introduction about 'charging Nicola Sturgeon with treason'. The bass playing stood out, and Matt Pegg was putting heart and soul into the backing voices]
Grand Hotel
['Some things fade a bit. Like Rod Stewart. Nicola Sturgeon ... she's 82'. This was as good as any rendering of the song I've ever heard. Amusing sidestepping antics from the two fretmen]

Can't Say That [Surely the best of the up-tempo Novum rockers. 'I'll let young Geoff Whitehorn start this. Pay no attention to my adjectives!' 'I never do,' Geoff replied.. Brilliant bass-playing. Thumbs up from Dennis Weinreich in the row in front]
Whaling Stories
  [A change from the published setlist, but this wonderful piece had been 'run up the flagpole' in sound check. Great to hear it again, and the band cooked up a whale of a storm.]
['I struggle with three chords,' says GB. 'Don't know what order to play them in.' Crisp and hilarious. Matt on splendid form with BVs, guaranteeing a good show for father Dave Pegg, in the audience]
Conquistador [Much comic joshing during the organ solo, after which Geoff W tested the B3 with his hand to see if it were hot. Standing ovation]

The band bowed, consulted., glanced at watches, and regrouped. The enrapt audience went from a roar to a whisper, which GB commented upon.

The Only One [slightly tentative at the outset, but built to a fine ending (note the so-called Moonlight Sonata arpeggiated figuring at the end). A fine song, rewarded with storming applause.
A Whiter Shade of Pale [three verses, piano solo, guitar solo. Extremely well received by a spellbound crowd. How can the playing and the singing still be this good, said many people at the merchandise stand]

18 songs altogether: 1 From Procol Harum   from Shine on Brightly
1 From A Salty Dog 1 From Home   from Broken Barricades
1 From Grand Hotel 2 From Exotic Birds and Fruit 1 from Procol's Ninth
  From Something Magic   From The Prodigal Stranger 1 from The Well's on Fire
8 From Novum 2 non-album tracks By general reckoning among audience, helpers and various band-members, this was the stand-out gig of the tour. Two other port cities (London and Liverpool) came close.

Also heard, at soundcheck, Josh playing Vivaldi by Curved Air, probably an echo of yesterday's special revelations about seeing Sonja Kristina perform, many years ago


Procol dates in 2017 | Booking

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