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Gary Brooker at Haapsalu, Estonia

29 July 2017 • Peter Morgan for BtP

Gary Brooker and orchestra at Rock in Haapsalu, 29 July 2017, Haapsalu, Estonia

Gary was top billing on the second night of this high-profile festival of classic rock, playing to an estimated 5,000-strong crowd.

Both evenings featured a mixture of local and international acts (Day 1: Bonnie Tyler and Suzi Quatro), and Gary’s warm-up was Paul Young, who did 45 minutes of his hits.


All the acts were ably supported by a very good and versatile group of local musicians (guitar, drums, bass and keyboards), as well as the Haapsalu Symphony Orchestra. Musical director was Raul Vaigla. The already-crowded stage was full to bursting for Gary’s set when he was also joined by the 30-strong Haapsalu Chamber Choir. Gary’s long-time collaborator David Firman came on to conduct the company.

Gary came on stage at 10.15pm to a very warm welcome. He kicked off his 45-minute set with Homburg, which was clearly well-known to many present. The orchestra really came into their own for Conquistador, the final trumpet phrase bringing an appreciative roar from the crowd. Next up was Sunday Morning from Novum, which was politely if not rapturously received. This was followed by perennial live favourite An Old English Dream, which the band really played as if it were their own song.

Haapsalu is a leading Estonian seaside resort and Gary referred to this when mentioning the local seagulls in his introduction to A Salty Dog. Singing is a favourite Estonian pastime, and the Haapsalu Chamber Choir intoned the introductory Latin chorus with aplomb.

This just left the AWSoP finale. It was preceded by Gary's skit about descending chords, which the band appeared not to have been forewarned about. This made their impromptu efforts to join in all the more authentic and impressive, and the crowd clearly appreciated the references. Gary's ability to hit all the right notes in When a Man Loves a Woman was truly impressive (especially after Paul Young had been noticeably less successful with some, or indeed all, of his songs). The performance was rapturously received, and this prompted a final repeat of the AWSoP chorus and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Another great performance by The Commander.

Brooker and Firman converse

Thanks, Peter!

Procol dates in 2017 | Setlist

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