Procol Harum back in Norway!
Two of us drove down 340 kms to the sports hall near Kristiansand from Oslo for the concert. This was the fourth time I had the opportunity to see Gary Brooker in concert, but only the second with the Procol Harum band. I first attended the 1992 reunion concert in Oslo Concert Hall, then there was the solo concert at the same place a few years later, and recently he returned with the Rhythm Kings. By the way, I was quite amazed at the important role Gary played in Bill Wyman’s group, and having bought the new 2CD at the venue, I realised that his central position is quite well documented on the record, too. In Oslo they played The Long Goodbye, and Gary’s voice was as strong as ever. Expectations before Kristiansand were rising.
We arrived just in time for the sound check, and since the hall was open, we got more than half an hour extra concert, proving that the sound quality this evening was going to be perfect. When they had finished, we got autographs from Gary, Matthew and Geoff. Although as we were told later during the concert, they had been up extremely early for a couple of days, they took the time to exchange some words with a few fans. I told Geoff that I appreciated his eminent guitar playing ever since the fine albums of If. He seemed to enjoy hearing that.
I must admit that sports halls are not my favourite type of venue for concerts. But the arrangers had done quite a lot to create an atmosphere. There were textiles hanging from the ceiling to adjust the size of the area, and long tables with candle lights. After the warm-up from a local band we were welcomed by Jens, who told us about Procol’s impressive chart run in Norway, and then the concert started.
The band got a warm reception by the audience, and kicked off with Bringing Home the Bacon, followed by Shine on Brightly. Since we stood up front in the middle, the sound of the keyboards was dominated by the lead guitar. Even Gary’s vocals were not heard loud enough at this place. So for the last part of the show we went 5-6 meters back from the stage, where the sound was perfect. Homburg, Nothing but the Truth, Cerdes, and TV Ceasar were are familiar and well-delivered songs. Then came one lesser known song, So Far Behind. The hand-clapping increased when we had Grand Hotel, which was played with some humour. Gary told us the song was written in Copenhagen while at a lousy hotel, not resembling Grand or Ritz at all. Beyond the Pale was dedicated to the website, he told it was written while on tour in Norway, inspired by the pale colours on snow from the midnight sun. For Liquorice John (from the LP Grand Hotel) then Typewriter Torment (from Procol’s Ninth) were delivered, probably not known for many of the listeners. It’s good they play lesser known songs, as they could easily have stuck to a greatest hits repertoire. We only missed Matthew singing. Then the finale approached, with the pounding Whaling Stories. Whisky Train was introduced with some comments on the Norwegian alternative to whisky, Aquavit. Gary seemed to be well informed on Norwegian salmon, as well, and pointed out that the seaways connection between England and Norway had been important. On Repent Walpurgis the organ playing delivered by Matthew and Geoff's versatile lead guitar gave us another highlight of the evening.
The listeners were although not yet content, as one certain song was missing. The group was called back for an encore consisting of A Salty Dog (the screaming seagulls were almost inside the building!) and at last That Certain Song.
Thank you, Gary, Matthew, Geoff, Matt and Mark for a memorable concert in a country where your reputation is high.
|Kristiansand Index||Procol Harum concerts in 2001: index page|
|The setlist for this concert|