Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum ē New York, USA

Setlist ē 26 February 2019

Brooker, Dunn, Pegg, Phillips, Whitehorn
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I Told on You

Delicious trickles of jazzy piano from Josh. The whole ensemble full of authority. 'Nice to be back in New York City. Can't remember the last time we played here'!

Pandora's Box
Notable for cascading fills from birthday-boy Geoff Dunn


Immediate cheers for the introduction tonight. GB apologises for the 'datedness' of the song. Interesting new phrasing for 'The town clock in the market square,' which came in late, and somewhat peremptorily

The Unquiet Zone
Band intros including 'Biffer' Geoff Dunn. The Zone come out good and fast, with heavily-punched offbeat accents. The  playing, very exciting, but extremely relaxed. Impressive manipulation of feedback from GW

Image of the Best
This sounded great in the background as the Merch Stall hosted the first of several shouted visits from a customer originating in Gottingen, Germany: reminiscences about Soft Machine in the 1970s, and attempts to start a conversation excoriating Brexit

The Devil Came
from Kansas

Good walloping texture. Visit to the stall from a nice lady from Southend-on-Sea, whom we introduced to Franky Brooker, who was watching the gig from nearby with Maggie 'Holding On' Ryder. Excellent to hear this song a second night running.  Some marvellous, insistent final guitar work from Geoff

The Only One

"'The only one.' We don't know who it is, but we know who it isn't: Tronald Dump. Apologies to any Republicans here ... there aren't any here, are there?" Resounding 'No!'.  

Fabulous vocal performance: venue goes completely still. Discreet bass runs, such plaintive guitar in the playout. Subtle change when Josh shift to the Hammond ... impossible not to sing along to the chorus. Standing ovations noted here and there

Simple Sister

Cheers after the first five eighth-notes (American for 'quavers'!). Outstanding vocal and guitar solo, but one could write that about every song. 'Mandolin' effect from guitar works very nicely. Audience surprisingly skilful at clapping off the beat

Bringing Home
the Bacon

A scalding torrent of sound.  Matt Pegg very inventive.  In the 'gaps' passage Geoff Dunn's break ... an immense rolling tom-tom round ... outstanding. Tonight Gary Brooker's offering was Hall of the Mountain King ... last night it was the opening of A Christmas Camel.

Cerdes (Outside
the Gates of)

Blistering solos from GW; long Troweresque notes with occasional frenzies of speed. Lyrically verse three is one of the best in Procoldom, its seeming non sequiturs bonded together with a semantic glue of their own exudation.  That A flat chord, now so heavily emphasised, was missing from my original Essex Music lead-sheet.  GW two great solos, and a cadenza to boot. No sign of the BBC Match of the Day theme which was manifesting itself at this point, at the end of last. He's 'in the zone'.

Shine on Brightly

Little patter up to this point. Josh plays very close to the Matthew Fisher line in the organ solo: XK5 sounding brilliant.


'Itís only when youíre old that you don't have money, and that is when you need it, when the doctor's bills come in.  Doctors stick around, we may need you later.' 

Verse three continues to grow a reggae influence,  but also hints of Wall Street Blues riffery. And always Matt's dynamic bass scurrying about in the undergrowth.

'I might retire tonight.  First gig we played in USA was here, Cafe au Go-Go.  Don't tell me you were there! Nobodyís that old!' Gary says he'll have a Norwegian drink and name-checked Jens, who runs 'Beyond the Pale'. 'We have a fan who insists I always have a Norwegian schnapps sometime in the evening.' 


Very amusing 'Neighbour patter'.  'This song was inspired by Buddy Holly as you'll hear immediately it starts.' Definite Holly articulation in the group vocals at the end.

A Salty Dog


Itís not all death, doom and destruction with Procol, there are lighter moments, and thereís one coming up.' First GB greets the people from Athens who came over especially for the gig, inviting them to inspect the Chrysler building (!); the band plays a burst Zorba the Greek.

Notable for the grizzled cove at the back who entertained his two young girl-friends by enacting all the song's words in interpretative mime while they filmed him, all three of them completely missing a spectacular performance.

Grand Hotel


A fairly typical spiel about the 'old days' but this time including 'Andy Warhol did our rooms' and an account of all the A-listers 'including Linda Lovelace.' (Search BtP and you should be able to find both these names and get a sense of their involvement with Procol Harum).

Wonderful consistency of this line up, more so even than in Europe late last year. 'the nights we dine on fish and chips' from Geoff'n'Matt gets a good laugh; likewise their sobbing pantomime during the violin solo. Amazing to be so playful and so solidly moving at the same time: the 'mandolin' section so serenely beautiful . 

'I smoked too many joints today, thatís the trouble.'


Happy birthday to Howard and Geoff D.  Winery manager April brings out a cake.  Gary reminds us that when he was due to 'come out' V2 missiles where whizzing over London. Pressing buttons on the piano ... sigh of 'Sweet Fanny Adams'.

Very great restraint, and showmanship, from Josh.  This song was omitted from last nightís printed setlist

A Whiter Shade of Pale (two verses)

The 'descending bass lines' gambit goes straight into When a Man Loves a Woman. Franky comments that 'I donít know where he gets these high notes from.' Then JS Bach (very tasty piano and organ) then a travesty of the Moody Blues's Go Now.  Then Bob Marley, then A Whiter Shade of Pale without guitar solo tonight, but a very serpentine, Coppinglike excursion from Josh, beautifully finished with a long, upward scale. Splendid quality of attention in the audience.  Guitar and bass together finally emphasising Dave Knights's c# and f#, the only black notes in the whole tune.

Standing ovation. Concert ends 10.11 pm


17 songs altogether: 2 From Procol Harum 1 from Shine on Brightly
2 From A Salty Dog   From Home 1 from Broken Barricades
2 From Grand Hotel   From Exotic Birds and Fruit 2 from Procol's Ninth
  From Something Magic   From The Prodigal Stranger   from The Well's on Fire
5 From Novum 2 non-album tracks Photography by Bert Saraco

Procol dates in 2019 | Booking

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