Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum ... in a manner of speaking ... UK, 18 June 2016

Michel Birrell catches all of Procol Harum, at two separate gigs

Sandra and I got to see all five members of Procol Harum on Saturday 18 June – but at two different concerts! Firstly, we attended the first three hours of Rock’n’Horsepower, the third annual charity concert in aid of Prostrate Cancer UK at Hurtwood Park Polo Club in Ewhurst, Surrey; secondly, Blues on the Farm in Chichester.

The one thing the two shared was the superb playing by all five members of Procol Harum, which was noted by numerous people around us at both gigs. 


Josh Phillips and Geoff Dunn (pictured) were in the house band backing many of the artistes performing on that day at Rock’n’Horsepower. Among the performances we enjoyed that day were Cregan & Co (three Rod Stewart hits which Jim Cregan had co-written or played on), Chris Difford of Squeeze (Take Me I’m Yours, Cool for Cats and Fat as a Fiddle), John Lodge (I’m Just a Singer with A Rock and Roll Band, Nights in White Satin and Ride My See-Saw) Mike Rutherford (Genesis’s I Can’t Dance and Mike and The Mechanics’ Looking Back Over my Shoulder). Paul Young’s two songs Come Back and Stay and Every Time You Go Away unfortunately showed up his shot voice.


We chose to miss Paul Young and Los Pacaminos, The Boomtown Rats and The Jones Gang; instead, using my recently-purchased satnav, we headed to Chichester to see Gary Brooker and Friends’ headlining set at Blues on the Farm. Because of the awful June weather three men were on hand to push the cars in and out of the deep mud at the car-park entrance. Our wellies came in handy getting from the car-park into the festival area. However, the show was inside a giant marquee and so we kept dry once we reached the stage and in spite of our late arrival secured a good place centre stage in the second row while many folk were buying drinks or food between sets.


Our efforts were rewarded by a brilliant hundred-minute seventeen-song setlist from Gary and his amazing band, with fellow-Procol Harum members Geoff Whitehorn on guitar and Matt Pegg on bass. Graham Broad on drums and Frank Mead on saxophone, harmonica and clarinet completed the line-up.



Gary opened the show with Canned Heat’s Let’s Work Together which got many of the audience dancing from the outset. This was followed by three blues tunes: Louis Jordan’s  Let The Good Times Roll, John Lee Hooker’s Baby Lee and Muddy Waters’ Hoochie Coochie Man. Next up were two Procol Harum songs – the hit single Homburg and a new song Justifiable Homicide, which hopefully the band will record at some point. Geoff Whitehorn took over the lead vocals for The Thrill is Gone, as popularised by BB King, and played some great guitar.

Gary then did the title song from his solo album Lead Me to the Water. It was then the turn of Frank Mead to sing the Little Walter tune Just Your Fool. Gary then performed another Procol Harum song Juicy John Pink from the A Salty Dog album.  Next up were two songs I’ve heard Gary sing many times over the years: Old Black Joe and You Can’t Judge a Book. Shake Rattle and Roll got everyone dancing again. Busted and Blueberry Hill followed, which kept up the momentum. The encore was A Whiter Shade of Pale which went down a storm and had people swaying from side to side and holding up lighters and mobile phones.

Gary returned to perform one last song, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Wooly Bully which saw the whole audience including the stage hands and the stewards dancing. The last two floaters on the setlist were not played as I suspect the band were exhausted by this time.

Procol dates in 2016 

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