Procol Harum were magnificent ̶̵ that is the very condensed version of this review ̶̵ but for more information, read on …
We arrived at the Ramblin' Man Fair a few hours before they were due, on the 'Prog Rock' stage, at 8.30 pm, and took in various acts on the various stages as we rambled around the park. We arrived in the crowd as Thunder were playing and secured our places stage-front prior to the Hawkwind set. After the latter had finished there was an alarming exodus of folk from around the stage, but we need not have worried because by the time Procol were due on an enthusiastic crowd had gathered.
A bit like Butlins, Minehead, there were not many Procol tee-shirts in evidence but, by a few numbers in, the crowd got right behind our guys ̶̵ won over by commanding musicianship, great music and Gary's wonderful, witty, badinage (more about that later).
Round about Cerdes (Outside the Gates of) we looked around and saw a sea of happy smiling faces that were really getting into Procol Harum, which made us immensely proud.
I (Carrie) enjoyed the set, which embarked in fine style with the bluesy Yours if You Want Me which I thought was a pretty canny way to start.
As usual the set explored Procol's varied styles of music ̶̵ much more variety to be had than the other acts we had seen (no disrespect to them intended). Indeed, Gary’s evergreen vocals were excellent as ever and there were musical solos from Matt, Josh and Geoff D (brilliant as ever) which ensued across various songs with Geoff W having more than his fair share, including some rather mind-blowing guitar solos!
Josh let rip on the Hammond and on several occasions played it with one hand while playing with the other on his new Yamaha Montage 8.
Throughout, between songs, Gary's expected ̶̵ to the few, at least ̶̵ banter came and went to the amusement of all. ‘When you've been around as long as we have you end up taking your own surgeon, nurse, oxygen tent’: Doctor, doctor! As always there was a touch of Hawaii in the music which went well with Gary and Josh's colourful shirts!
And so it went on, captivating the hearts of a new following of fans. ‘Time to make one up, I think,’ said Gary before he and Geoff sang and played I'm a Ramblin' Man'.
Towards the end Gary stood up stating 'I thought I was going to get a drink. Three hundred and forty-three chords and some people have four. I used to like jazz once, soul, classical ̶̵ at which point a few bars of Bach were played ̶̵ soul, When a Man Loves a Woman, you know the sort of thing'. After which we all sang along to No Woman, No Cry. Then, of course, came the much-anticipated finale of A Whiter Shade of Pale ̶̵ one year off its golden anniversary.
The one and a half hours went by far too quickly and the guys left the stage to a very warm ovation. It had been a thoroughly joyful experience! Business as usual then!
Thanks, Carrie and John
Procol dates in 2016 | Setlist