Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum • New York, USA

Setlist • 25 February 2019

Brooker, Dunn, Pegg, Phillips, Whitehorn
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Wonderfully warm atmosphere in the intimate, sold-out City Winery (capacity 300). But very cold near the
merchandise stall, in the corner by the entry door. Hence, no doubt, the written sign above the stage,
which is an anagram of 'Icy Wintery'

I Told on You

A sparkling opener, with great interplay, or perhaps collaboration is the better term, between drums and bass, coordinated by glances and gestures

Pandora's Box

Exciting end-part, with specially inventive and surprising piano in particular


Big clap when the words started, almost as if the audience didn’t recognise the intro

The Unquiet Zone

'A number from Procol’s Ninth,' said Gary. 'Not from Chicago’s Ninth. The Moody Blues, who’ve been in the news lately … haven’t they? Oh, perhaps they haven’t …'

Anyway, marvellous to hear this stellar piece again: it does sound very like the original. GE uses a bit less cowbell than BJ but it has the same thrilling drive as the 1975 version; wonderful vocal and guitar solos

Can't Say That

Again, the eye-contact between Matt and Geoff Dunn … even more intricate bass and drum play … the piece pounds ahead like a galloping horse, making the slow finale even more stirring. Best bass-sound I’ve heard in years, thanks to Bunny Warren on the sound desk: great to hear The Mighty Pegg so distinctly

The Devil Came
from Kansas

Band introductions, the first of three. ‘Josh Hammond’ was a surprise. GW introduces GB with ‘I’ve had the best seat in the house for 28 years, next to this man.’ GB introduces the next number ‘... in E flat, the guitarist’s friend’. Wonderful guitar work, and also spot-on harmonies from GW … so important in this song, and he has the skills to match. No hand-claps in the brief eccentric drum fill preceding verse three. A huge pleasure to hear this song again. The Hammond XK-5 produces a fabulous  sound … yet  it’s odd to hear organ on this track. I look forward to catching it again.

Sunday Morning

False start … ‘I wasn’t nodding, I was just saying “hello”!’. Otherwise, a superb performance, with applause to match. A dawning realisation, as some would say, that our American chums are probably hearing these songs live for the first time

Simple Sister

A storming performance takes us into the interval

Bringing Home the Bacon

Lots of cowbell on this one; the playing is as tight as a Very Tight thing; first backing-vocal of the evening for Matt Pegg. First time I’ve heard this song starting with the ‘Emperor Baby Dumpling’ verse. One could query this with The Commander, but the – unbeatable – response would be very likely to be ‘How do you know it was right on the record?’

Fires (Which
Burnt Brightly)

A wonderful vocal here; verse three contained a bit of verse two recycled, but it didn’t matter at all. Spectacular drumming: between the verses Geoff Dunn throws caution to the lions, and his extended fills are labyrinthine, almost shocking in their unpredictability, as well as speed and technical virtuosity. The man’s amazing. Hints of octopus in bathtub falling down stairs, if I may mix my BJ metaphors. Spine-tingling

Shine on Brightly

Warmly received , quite a gentle-paced version except for super-violent last beats on the drums. Very tasty organ work. The song is '51 years old today’.

Gary talked about having met Sandy Hurwitz (‘Uncle Meat’) lately in Nashville. She opened for Procol  when the band first visited the New World, in 1967. Good BtP readers will know that she is the dedicatee, or inspiration, of the words of Quite Rightly So


Ultra-bright pace, very exciting; lots of antiquated headbanging in the crowd and a delightful Fabulous Furry Freak Brother dancing on his own at the back of the packed-out Winery. He bought a CD at the end even though he has no CD player. Delightful.

Then a most bizarre story from the piano-stool about an obstetrician who had delivered a baby earlier in the day, to the strains of A Whiter Shade of Pale. The obstetrician – Howie – himself was in the audience and was greatly moved to hear the delivery-suite tale of little Rycker … quite an unusual name … retold from the stage a few hours later


None of the usual preamble … Rycker had usurped that … but it all sounded good. New organ solo in the final rounds

A Salty Dog

Bit of patter about vacuum-cleaners, to cover a 24-second restart routine on the piano. When it comes back to life it says ‘Hello Gary, I’m a Yamaha’. Allegedly.

A Salty Dog tremendous. A customer (luckily they’re always right) chooses the first drum-fill moment to come to the merchandise stall and discuss why there are only short-sleeved tee-shirt available. But the rest of the performance was brilliant, no holds barred in all departments. Slow, poignant, relaxed, elevating. Standing ovation

Grand Hotel

Lengthy Brooker patter about some Burger company … ‘not a freezer in the joint …’ impossible for a foreign visitor to determine the truth value, if any, of any of it.

Grand Hotel … such dynamics! Vital and absorbing. In the violin solo, pantomime from the fretmen as they weep on each other's shoulders. ‘These New York girls they like to fight’. Second standing ovation

Whisky Train

Hey Bartender … all very visceral and committed; great drum solo from GE.

A Whiter Shade of Pale (two verses)

The usual musical excerpts telling the story of the descending chords; two verses of AWSoP including a lovely guitar solo and very pleasing saturation of organ lines. Crowd calls out for more!


17 songs altogether:   From Procol Harum 1 from Shine on Brightly
2 From A Salty Dog 1 From Home 1 from Broken Barricades
3 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 Photo courtesy of Bert Saraco


Procol dates in 2019 | Booking

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