Harum: Festival Hall
The difficulties of reviewing rock concerts continue to multiply. Recently I have narrowly escaped physical assault by tearful fans at an Osmonds concert, been blinded by television lights while attempting to watch Don McLean, and last night I was seated in a box above the stage with the result that I could hardly hear a word of what was sung. With Procol Harum the words often matter most because they are written by the highly articulate Keith Reid, who captured a moment of social history in the summer of 1967 by writing A Whiter Shade of Pale.
Because of the weird sound balance that reached my box the attention was focused for much of the first part of the evening on the groupís drummer, BJ Wilson. He achieved no particular excitement, and produced a drum break during Power Failure that reached a mundanity only equalled by the opening group, Kevin Coyne. However, on record Procol Harum are one of my favourite groups and although they never seemed to equal the heights of any of their recordings they pleased their audience with selections from those very albums.
They transmitted what can only be described as a sepulchral energy with the combination of their organist, Chris Copping, and their pianist-composer, Gary Brooker. On stage therein lies their strength as they complement each other with an almost demonic quality. I found it much preferable to the frenetic playing of their two guitarists and drummer. There was much to like about what they played, especially old favourites like the rumbustious Conquistador, Salty Dog and Whaling Stories from the Salty Dog album [sic], and a selection from their latest album Grand Hotel, in which the title song saw Broker [sic] and Copping at their most inventive.
The only really new work of the evening was a piano solo song by Brooker called The Idol, but once again the inability to hear the words for me removed the point of the song. If I had been able to hear the words I am sure it would have been a memorable evening. As it was it was merely enjoyable.
Thanks to John Lock for locating this article, Jill McMahon for typing it
More mentions of Procol Harum in The Times