Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum in Hull, 14 March 1975

With Frankie Miller

A couple of days before the famous Procol + Frankie Miller gig at the close of London's Rainbow Theatre, these musical bedfellows played a cracking gig at Hull University. David White reports for BtP

This gig got off to the worst possible start for me! I must admit I only bought a ticket because it was our Easter Ball and most of my friends were going. On arriving at the Students' Union building I discovered that I had lost my ticket so I had to pay to get in again at the door - hence no ticket stub. After a pint, I began to cheer up but nothing could have prepared me for the experience that laid ahead, and a 'love affair' which has lasted for well over a quarter of a century.

I had no idea that the band that were playing on stage as I entered the refectory were Procol Harum at first. The material they were playing was hard rock, and not what I was expecting at all. This number was Simple Sister. After the first set, Gary Brooker introduced Frankie Miller and they backed him for several numbers including The Devil Came From Kansas.

At this stage, the band sounded remarkably like Free. A second Procol set followed where they previewed songs from the next album including The Piper's Tune, Typewriter Torment and The Unquiet Zone. Frankie Miller then joined them for the encores.

Other songs I remember being performed that evening were Power Failure, Toujours L'Amour, Bringing Home The Bacon, Grand Hotel / Blue Danube, Beyond the Pale, A Salty Dog and possibly Whaling Stories. I also think they did either Butterfly Boys or Monsieur R. Monde or possibly both, I'm not sure: judging by other contemporary set lists it looks as though it was probably Butterfly Boys. There was definitely no A Whiter Shade of Pale.

I also saw PH at the City Hall in Hull, 14 February 1977, which was my final year at university. The gig was organised by Hull University 'Ents', but at that time we had moved into a new Union building which was largely unsuitable for rock concerts so the City Hall was used instead. Material from Something Magic was previewed and I remember The Worm and the Tree didn't impress at the time. Although the show was largely enjoyable, it was a bit of a disappointment after the excellence of the March '75 concert. This time AWSoP was performed as an encore.

I have seen many top bands over the last 30 years or so, but Procol Harum in March '75 still rates as the best live performance ever for me!

Thanks, David

Martin Bostock writes to BtP (September 2005)
I too was at this fabulous gig.  My memories are slightly hazy 31 years on, but I will never forget plucking up the courage to go and sit at a table in the refectory prior to the gig where a couple of Procols were having a pre-show refresher.  I was so awestruck that for some reason I addressed the Commander and Barrie Wilson and “Mr Brooker” and “Mr Wilson”. 


They were remarkably tolerant of a simpering fan and were very jolly and amusing.  We didn’t discuss anything of consequence, but I was very pleased to have said hello.


I can confirm that they did play Monsieur R Monde, on which “Mr Brooker” stood up to play a Fender Telecaster in open tuning with his index finger stretched across the neck to create very primitive (yet quite effective) major bar chords. 


I never did really understand what Frankie Miller was doing there.  I only wanted to see Procol Harum.


Robin Trower also played an absolute barn-stormer at Hull during my time there.  But that’s another story …

More Procol concert reports at BtP

Controversy over Frankie Miller / Procol Harum at the close of London's Rainbow Theatre


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