Procol Harum

the Pale

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

Procol at the London Palladium

Philip Norman in The Times

Thanks for this clipping, John LockI must confess that I did not imagine I should ever spend Sunday night at the London Palladium. Its acquisition for a single concert by Procol Harum illustrates a tendency among rock managements, now that the Rainbow has closed, to select venues more and more richly inappropriate. Imagine my confusion when, having dreamed of the Palladium for so long, I had not the slightest idea where to find it. There it was at last, crouching behind Oxford Circus station, less noticeable than the sea of blue denim loitering outside.

Everyone has heard of Procol Harum: that, in a way, is their affliction. A decade ago they recorded a song called A Whiter Shade of Pale, pretentious and derivative enough to make a classic of its day. Though they have since released nine albums, that rather dreary song has fixed the band’s achievement for all time, consigning them to the unhappy half-world of one-hit wonders.

That early misfortune has worked to the benefit of the music they now play, which is utterly in reaction to A Whiter Shade of Pale, eschewing all whimsy, preferring the virtues of simplicity and muscle. The last time I saw them, in fact, was at the Rainbow, when they seemed all that was worth watching in the farewell concert for that unlamented hall. Last night they elected to play for both halves of the concert bill and even to begin – almost – on time.

Their music is competent rather than inspired; less enthralling than continuously aceptable [sic]. Most of it originates in the pianist, Gary Brooker, whose voice provides that slightly ecclesiastical touch in their best songs, such as Conquistador. The remaining four musicians, though hard working and unaffected, have little to distinguish them: the music could not survive without Brooker’s shaking head and his pumping leg.

Thanks, Jill, for the typing

More concerts reported at BtP

New Musical Express on this gig: search for 'Joan Bakewell'

 More Procol pieces from The Times

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home