'Hey Hey we're the Procols ...'
Bert Saraco (of Bert and Carina) writes to BtP (May 2003)
There was excitement in the air up and down New York Avenue in the village of Huntington (spelled incorrectly on the tour shirt, by the way) as Procol Harum was set to perform for the fourth time in three days! The show wasn't to start 'till 9 pm, but fans were milling around the environs of the IMAC theater since well before five in the afternoon.
Two fans eyed me curiously as I arrived (with the lovely Carina) and eventually asked me if I was Keith Reid: after checking, I assured them that I wasn't. After much good conversation with the many fans that were coming and going, the time had come ... The show's setlist is readily available – I'll just comment on the nature of the evening's performance. The crowd was energetic – so was the band.
The IMAC provided an appropriate venue for the unique music of Procol Harum: the stage was un-crowded and well set (as opposed to the close quarters of the previous evening's show at The Bottom Line, where the boys had little room to move). The stage lighting was effective and the sound was clean and well-balanced. The format of the show: two sets with an intermission in between.
The 'word' was that no photography would be allowed, which prompted one fan to suspend his camera by the strap, down the inside leg of his pants – I would have used the same method, but with a zoom lens ... well, let's say I would've made quite an impression! At any rate, I was able to get a few shots off without losing my dignity or my camera.
What can one say about the current band's performance? The songs, old and new, sounded fresh and vital. All band members seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, and it was obvious that the audience was receiving the show with excitement and enthusiasm.
Gary was in fine form, his voice a thing of wonder. Geoff continues to amaze – his total delight and oneness with the guitar is a pleasure to see. Mark on drums and Matt Pegg on bass provided a tight, finely-honed rhythmic foundation to the music. Matthew Fisher was amazing on the Hammond, and in unusually good humor.
Especially impressive to me was the excellent harmony vocals provided by Geoff, Mark and Matt on difficult vocal passages such as the chorus of VIP Room and So Far Behind. These three and sometimes four-part vocal moments were consistently tight and on-pitch perfect! It seemed as if the extra space on stage, as well as the freedom of having the 'whole night' to do a single show, freed the band to enjoy themselves and give it their best shot, which they certainly did!
Some time after most of the audience had filed out of the theater, the band members came back out to the stage area and met with the fifty or sixty fans that remained. Autographs were signed, and a good time was had by all.
We were even treated to a previously un-heard a cappella piece by the band. The lyrics went like this: 'Hey, hey – we're The Procols. People say we Procol around. But we're too busy Procoling, to put anybody down....' and so on. Hmmm. The tune did sound somewhat familiar ... Procol Harum covering The Monkees?! Can the Apocalypse be far behind?! Apparently, we weren't the only ones that had a good time at The IMAC!
Images on this page © Bert Saraco for Express Images Photography