The word "grand" was used five times during the introduction of Procol Harum to London’s Royal Festival Hall stage on Monday night. In itself the word so aptly sums the band up because it can have two distinct connotations.
First, it can mean simply excellent, which they were later in their set. Second, it can, as a prefix, mean pompous, which they were in the early part of the evening.
The opening numbers Conquistador, A Rum Tale and so on have those typical deadly serious Procol neo-classic arrangements, which can slip into pokerfaced self-conscious melodrama.
The piano chording of Gary Brooker becomes a little too grandiloquent, the organ swells of Chris Copping become rather too lush and opulent. A Rum Tale is especially prone to this, its first-person narrative verses swelling into anthemic solos that sound like Pomp And Circumstance meets The Moonlight Sonata.
Procol Harum can then confound the ear by coming to grips with the grand style they seek, starting with Bringing Home The Bacon, through BJ Wilson’s drum solo and The Idol (a new song with the tell-tale line from lyricist Keith Reid 'Just another writer turned to play' [sic]) until the group is thunderously classic in Shine On Brightly, TV Caesar and Silver [sic] Sister. Grand Hotel fittingly closed their set proper. Brooker prefaced it with a snatch of Poison Ivy – the Paramounts are not forgotten – and their rock encores – Maurice Williams’ Stay and Fats Domino’s I’m Ready – show that here’s a band that could, if it chose to, roll the rocks off allcomers [sic].
A mention for guitarist Mick Grabham, whose solos on the night were something special.
|Jim Corbett sends
this unattributed scan to 'Beyond the Pale'. Pete Erskine wrote for
New Musical Express and we assume that this is a review of the same
show as mentioned above.
Interesting to see that the Silver Sister solecism occurs in both these pieces ...
Thanks, Jill, for the typing