Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Barbican Concert

Details from the Official Programme

Barbican Centre
The Corporation of London founded and totally funds The Barbican Centre, enabling world class arts entertainment to thrive in the City of London. Over and above its management of the Centre, the Corporation directly sponsors the LSO, matching pound for pound the subsidy the Orchestra receives from the Arts Council.

The Corporation of London, the local authority for the Square Mile, is the third largest sponsor of the arts in the UK. The LSO gratefully acknowledges The Arts Council of England for its very generous support of the LSO's Barbican Season.


The programme will be announced from the platform, and will include a selection of the following:

Simple Sister
Repent Walpurgis
A Salty Dog
Holding On
Grand Hotel
Into the Flood
A Whiter Shade of Pale
Love Hurts
Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)
The Long Goodbye
(You Can't) Turn Back the Page

Click here for the evening's actual running-order

Procol Harum are:
Gary Brooker - voice / piano
Matthew Fisher - Hammond organ
Geoff Whitehorn - electric guitar
Matt Pegg - electric bass
Henry Spinetti - drum kit

Chameleon Arts Chorus
Nicholas Dodd - conductor

Procol Harum, one of the best known bands in the history of rock, released their first single, A Whiter Shade of Pale, in 1967. It immediately shot to number one around the world and has sold In excess of 10 million copies, making it one of the most popular songs ever recorded.

Although one of Procol's best known songs, tonight will be the first time this has been performed with an orchestral arrangement.

The original version of this was rearranged for orchestra at the 1971 concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Canada. It became a big US hit in 1972 and will be updated once more tonight.

Simple Sister
A difficult 'symphonic-rock' blend to achieve with its hard-rock riff and emphasis on rhythm rather than melody.
Dance / choreography by Andrea Buckley.

Repent Walpurgis
Matthew Fisher's Gothic composition resurrects itself in even darker form. Arranged for tonight's performance by Christian Kabitz who originally orchestrated it in Germany for his University thesis.

A Salty Dog
The epic 'voyage of life' has always been a favourite for Procol Harum aficionados. The first song Brooker arranged for orchestra way back in 1969.

Holding On
From the under-exposed The Prodigal Stranger album, the first showing of this version complete with Swahili, 'dark continent' atmosphere intro. A strong Keith Reid anti-war lyric on a wonderful Brooker melody.

Grand Hotel
This song has finally moved on to the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. Radio 3 and Classic FM could comfortably play this without upsetting too many listeners!

Into The Flood
An exciting new Brooker/Reid composition which gives band, choir and orchestra a chance to 'work out'!

Love Hurts
Tonight's concert wouldn't be complete without some 'schmaltz'. Listen closely to this evergreen Bryant and Bryant song - you may hear another old classic interweaving itself ...

Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)
This was a favourite at the 1973 Finsbury Park concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The Bach-like riffs and sombre Reid lyric are just as potent today as they ever were.

The Long Goodbye
A Brooker/Fisher/Reid composition from the mid-eighties. Tonight's performance marks its British première.

(You Can't) Turn Back The Page
Another melodic piece from Procol's 1991 album The Prodigal Stranger. The orchestral approach to the music transmutes naturally between the genres.

In 1967, songwriter/singer Gary Brooker teamed up with the extraordinary lyricist Keith Reid. Their first single, the classic A Whiter Shade of Pale, was a worldwide No 1 smash hit and Procol Harum, with its fluid line-up, went on to make ten widely-acclaimed albums in as many years. From these recordings came the hits Homburg, Conquistador, A Salty Dog, Grand Hotel and Pandora's Box. The band successfully toured the world and won legions of fans in many countries before calling it a day in 1977 - ten years to the day of their formation.

1991 saw Procol Harum re-formed and making the excellent album The Prodigal Stranger for BMG. Although the record was full of wonderful Brooker/Fisher/Reid compositions, it did not set the charts on fire; but it did show Brooker was singing as well, indeed some say better, than ever before, and relaunched the group's touring activities around the world.

Gary has recently been at work producing The Symphonic Music of Procol Harum with dynamic new orchestral arrangements of many of Procol Harum's best known songs, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and various guests. The album has just been released in Britain by RCA Victor.

The band have many successful collaborations with symphony orchestras under their belt. They have shared stages around the world with such orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the New Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Canada. With the latter, the group recorded their highly successful album Live with The Edmonton Symphony - an unsurpassed blend of rock and classical music.

Always in demand where quality music flourishes Procol Harum, with their singer/songwriter Gary Brooker at the helm, remain one of rock music's most enduring talents.

Gary Brooker had already been in a couple of high school bands when he formed The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist chum, Robin Trower. The band were to gain a lot of respect among the cognoscenti of the burgeoning British R'n'B scene which was to give us all The Beatles, The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, The Rolling Stones and many others. The Stones in particular were great Paramounts fans and championed their cause by giving them guest billing on several memorable shows in the early sixties. Fame and fortune, however, were destined to elude Brooker until the band split to reform, with a few personnel changes, as Procol Harum in the summer of 1967.

After Procol Harum retired from the fray in 1977, Gary Brooker continued his musical pursuits. He was commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet to write the music for Delta, a modern ballet; he played piano and sang with Eric Clapton's band for two years; he recorded several solo albums and led a 'good-time' rock and roll band, No Stiletto Heels [sic!] for the fun of it.

A keen fisherman - he is a European fly-fishing champion - Gary has recently landed a singing role in Alan Parker's major film of the musical Evita which will be released later this year.

Occasionally, rather than constantly, Gary and Procol Harum tour the world; among other engagements, they are scheduled to play at several European festivals this coming summer. Gary has always liked to involve himself in musically rewarding projects. For performer and audience alike, this evening's concert promises to be one of them. Enjoy it! "Music should be fun!" says Gary Brooker.

Matthew Fisher is a co-founder of Procol Harum, master of the Hammond organ, record producer and song writer. He played the immortal organ lines on A Whiter Shade of Pale and produced that fine Procol album A Salty Dog in 1969. He came on board once again in 1991 to co-produce and write for The Prodigal Stranger.

Geoff Whitehorn has played guitar in such British institutions as Bad Company, If and Crawler [sic] He is also a veteran 'sessioneer' and has recorded with the likes of Roger Waters and Paul McCartney. He has been playing guitar with Procol Harum for the last five years.

Matt Pegg is a naturally gifted musician and son of bassist Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention. Matt is, at a relatively early age, already the veteran of several Procol Harum world tours. Matt loves playing with Procol Harum - "A musician's band!" he says.

Henry Spinetti is one of Britain's most sought-after drummers. He is in constant demand as a session and touring drummer and has played with Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Colin John, among many others.

More pages about the Barbican concert

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