Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Procol Harum in Turku,  Finland

8 December 2015 Peter Cohen for BtP



 

When I first contemplated the idea of going to Finland,  I contacted my travel agent and explained I needed help arranging my trip to Turku. Goodness,  they said,  are you wanting to go to a concert in Turkey? Even with the similarities in spelling,  Boko Haram are not performing in Turkey,  I said: it is Procol Harum in concert in Finland!
 
After this explanation,  it turned out to be a remarkably smooth journey; one plane change in Helsinki and,  though December,  no snow anywhere!
 
Logomo is a delightful modern venue a stone's throw from Turku railway station. Even though the Usual Suspects (Webmasters/One-Eye, etc) were not present,  there was not a spare seat to be had in the two-tier auditorium. Well sold,  Chris!
 
Shortly after 8pm, the crowd hushed,  Procol Harum came on stage and we were off! From the opening bars of Bringing Home the Bacon to the final notes of A Whiter Shade of Pale nearly three hours later (including a twenty-minute intermission) we were treated to Procol in top form.
 
Gary's voice continues to be as good as ever,  Geoff Dunn's solo on Whisky Train was very crisp and fluent,  Dave Colquhoun sounded as if he was a permanent member of the band and not someone playing his second gig (this time due to Geoff Whitehorn being unavailable due to a prior commitment). I'm pleased to say DC had recovered from his broken leg and so was able to move round the stage unaided,  without the crutches required at the Dominion last year. I had therefore seen both his first two gigs with the band, but sadly not the third at Tampere, due the following day. Matt and Josh displayed their usual exemplary professional expertise, contributing to the Procol sound that has only got better with age.
 
At the interval I spoke to a few of those present,  some of whom had travelled over 100km to be there. They were thoroughly enjoying the evening and felt so privileged to be present to hear a band still at the top of their game,  less than 18 months away from the Fiftieth Anniversary of when it all started.
 
Gary's repartee between the songs is an entertainment in itself. In Turku, he was in excellent form and dealt with requests,  shouted from the audience,  in his normal inimitable style. They should know that such requests are invariably never played! For example,  tonight,  cries for Conquistador were ignored,  so very rarely for a Procol concert in the modern era   it was not played. Gary actually challenged one persistent member of the audience to a bout of arm wrestling afterwards ... only with knives!! He also announced that Procol Harum were from England,  not Wales,  not Northern Ireland and definitely not Scotland!  Fading hopes, I'm afraid Charlie,  of a future concert north of the border!
 
We were indeed privileged to hear the new song [Brooker-written], Suomi. It is a lovely ballad including plaintive cries of  'I'll be there (for you)' so I hope it finds its way to be released in some form. You never know,  perhaps on a new album??
 
The first eight albums were all well represented in the back catalogue played but there was nothing from Ninth or Something Magic. The audience had to wait until the encore for A Whiter Shade of Pale but were then treated to the extra 'shore-leave' middle verse. Gary certainly knows how to send everyone home happy; there really is no better way to end the evening.
 
I've always thought that there is an interesting analogy to Procol in the world of film. The great actor and director Orson Welles began his directing career in 1941 with the film Citizen Kane. Over the next seventy years it was regularly voted by Sight and Sound Magazine as the greatest film ever made; it was only in 2011 that it was finally overtaken by Hitchcock's Vertigo. Although Welles directed many superb films after Citizen Kane,  like The Magnificent Ambersons and A Touch of Evil. they were always compared to Kane and never got the recognition they deserved.
I think I've heard something similar somewhere else!
 

Thanks,  Peter

 


Procol dates in 2015 | Setlist from this show

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