Procol Harum

the Pale

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Aftershock: a Concert with a Cause

No Stiletto Shoes at Chennai, India

This article records Gary Brooker's gig in Chennai with a scratch version of No Stiletto Shoes. The local journalists seem to have confused this with Procol Harum, who did not go to India; let's hope the confusion worked in the charity's favour. Thanks, Lola B, for bringing this piece to our attention.

Through the ages, music has been a powerful unifying force that has brought together people from all walks of life. Recently, another golden page was added to the history of music when two rock legends took centre-stage and played at a LIVE concert in Chennai. The mission was to build up a strong community and focused support for the victims of the Tsunami disaster. The medium was a powerhouse rock performance, a 50,000 watt event for the connoisseurs of rock music in Chennai.

The concert titled Aftershock was staged at YMCA, Royapettah on 7th May, 2005, and featured Gary Brooker, singer and pianist of the band Procol Harum, which shot to fame with their smash hit A Whiter Shade of Pale in the late 60s. He was joined by Andy Fairweather-Low, guitarist par excellence and co-singer with Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Paul Young and so on. The proceeds from the concert went towards relief aid for the Tsunami victims.

Gary Brooker and Andy Fairweather-Low also made an appearance at Planet M, Spencer Plaza for a special meet-and-greet session with their fans.

Virgin Atlantic had flown down the artistes at no charge, with The Park and The Hyatt Regency sponsoring their stay in Chennai and Delhi respectively. The Rotary Club co-ordinated and organised the event.

Talking about their interest in this cause, John Caulcutt, CEO, Watermark Group, UK, said, "Rock is back in popularity today and my band (Step on the Gas) believes that music is the ideal platform to reach out to people. Music is a passion that can help people heal. Singing for a ‘cause’ adds to that passion. The money we raise will definitely be of great use, adding to the relief efforts already underway here." Caulcutt and his company provide consultancy services to over 250 airline companies over the world and have been involved with Virgin Atlantic in their Relief efforts for the Tsunami victims. John brought in about 56 tons of temporary shelters -- enough for about 4,500 homeless in Tamil Nadu sponsored by Virgin Atlantic Airways. Since then Virgin has been sending in British engineers to help relaunch the fishing fleet. It was during this time that John Caulcutt got involved with Rotary and came up with the idea of Aftershock.

"Music lovers are promised an evening of Rock at ‘Aftershock’ and through our interest in music we have come together to help in this cause," said Gary Brooker in a pre-event chat. They lived up to every word they said. "In whatever way we can contribute - our music - we are. I’m confident that Chennaiites will now help us by patronising our concert," added Andy Fairweather.

'Step On The Gas' are a group of friends who over the years have had a lot of experience in the music business. They formed the band specifically to raise money for charities and people in need. They are in great demand in England for all sorts of events and every year raise many hundreds of thousands of pounds for various good causes. The 7th May saw live the band, consisting of Simon Bladon (drums), Tony Howe (bass guitar), Giles Latchford (lead guitar / vocal), Baz Parsons-Smith (guitar / vocal / harmonica) and John Caulcutt (guitar / vocal), who each in their own right are exceptional musicians and have been in the music field for over a decade.

Procol Harum: Their music is built around an eclectic mix of blues-based rock riffs and grand classical themes. Singer/pianist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid providing the band's entire repertory and now Andy Fairweather Low on the guitar/vocals, who has sung with Eric Clapton, George Harrison and the like, accompanied them in this concert. Both Brooker and Low have been performing with Eric Clapton for the past few years. The band is best known for its super hit number A Whiter Shade of Pale. One of the most popular of progressive rock bands in the music scene since the 1970s, their singles have often outsold all rivals, and their most ambitious album tracks still have a strong following.

Big Town Playboys: Ian Jennings, bass player (double bass, bass guitar), is the sole surviving founder member of The Big Town Playboys today, which was first formed in 1984. By the end of the 1990s the band had visited the US three times, including a residency at Mick Fleetwood's club in Los Angeles, a tour of the West coast, a TV show and a trip to New York. The troupe has played for Prince Charles and Princess Diana and even for Tommy Hilfiger and Eric Clapton.

The concert had Ian Jennings, with Mark Morgan on the drums.

The Rotary Club Madras East: The Club has been actively involved with Tsunami Relief work since the awful tragedy struck on December 26th, 2004. In the initial few days after the calamity, members distributed food, clothing and drinking water to the victims. Since then they have been actively working with a number of NGOs like Relief Foundation and Child Health Education and Development (CHED) and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation to help in the rehabilitation of the Tsunami affected people. Currently they are raising funds to buy boats and other fishing equipment for the affected fishermen.

By R Rangaraj, online here

Actual Procol Harum concerts in 2005: index page

Gary's non-Procol concerts are here

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