Gary Brooker writes to 'Beyond the Pale' (9 March 2017)
Gary Takes a Trip
On Friday 3 March Procol Harum had their sell-out concert at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London, with full orchestra and choir.
My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen + psychiatrists, lawyers, Indian chiefs + doctors, Captains of Industry, teachers & students + men of the cloth (incl. tailors dressmakers & milliners), jockeys and musicians (incl. drummers & singers), unemployed and retired: Gary Brooker Cmmdr BRF, MBE & Bar, reporting on events 03/03.
When we walked out on stage you could feel the warmth of the welcome from the largest gathering of Palers and other friends and supporters who had made a fantastic effort to be there with us on this great night. I was especially looking forward to a preview of three songs from the new Procol Harum album Novum:
My Neighbour – with Sam Brown’s ukulele girls, to close first set
I Told on You – Procol soli, to open second half
Loads to look forward to, then!
I was so happy on leaving the stage for the interval that in the darkness of the night I didn’t see a step down, the ceiling flew away, and I fell from grace and hit the ground. In the words of the great Chas & Dave “Wallop! – he's gone down.”
I lay there for a moment sending messages around my body and brain doing a self-assessment, and thought I wasn’t too bad apart from the blood. A choir member and Franky were soon at my side and I said “Get me up and to the dressing room”, where a RFH medic gave me the once-over.
I was a bit bashed but I had not landed on my mouth – and having spread the impact incredibly evenly between both knees, nose, and forehead I told everybody I was fine and we should get back on. There was absolutely no way that wasn’t going to happen – the audience had made a great effort and I could only return the honour. I had in fact fallen on my right hand under my chest (broken bone) and it needed some ice-packs before I was ready, and a bandage round me bleedin’ ’ead !
As we went back on to a fantastic reception [picture above] I shouted to Josh, Matt & two Geoffs that my right hand was not good and could they ‘cover for me’. They did this with great art – the best Procol I’ve ever been with. There was plenty going on in the music with a hundred musicos and warblers givin’ it their best, and I just started singing with new strength and played the important piano notes with three or four digits.
Ah … Sunday Morning … I’d never sung it on stage and as the opening began I felt a surge of emotion: by the time it reached its previously unheard end, the wave of appreciation from the audience crashed over us, and we had arrived.
A final thank-you to Charlee & Chris London Ambulance Service, and all who sent their best wishes and thoughts about what was possibly Procol’s finest hour – that is, until the next.
Thanks, Paul Wolfe, for the photos on this page