Procol Harum

the Pale

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Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1971

Alan McDougall, British Music Press

I saw Procol Harum at the Albert Hall last year and thought they were quite good. I saw them last week at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and thought that they were sensational.

Gary Brooker is absolutely in the same class as Neil Young in the way that he psychologically spaces out the highs and lows in his programming of songs, and his voice is every bit as unique and magic as Neil's; BJ Wilson is such a tasty drummer that he has to be put in a class of his own, Alan Cartwright's driving bass is the perfect complement to Wilson's drums, and he gets some unbelievable tone colours from his axe; Chris Copping on organ and occasional rhythm guitar is every bit as good as Matthew Fisher; and Robin Trower's replacement on lead guitar, Dave ‘Cannon’ Ball, has nothing to worry about.

From the opening notes of Shine On Brightly all the way through to their closer, In Held ’Twas In I, Ball treated the audience to some strident, often breakneck, and always compatible, guitar sounds.

Procol's programme (set-list here) comprised mainly cuts from all their hit US albums – A Salty Dog, Simple Sister and Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) stood out, and a single from four years ago, In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence, sounded fresher than ever, A good, genuine 10-minute standing ovation brought them back to waste everybody's minds with Repent Walpurgis.

Procol Harum are the complete rock and roll band.

Please mail us if you know the exact provenance of this review

Michael Aguilera asks BtP:
I may have been present at this concert but I am not sure it is the one. I saw Procol Harum sometime in the early 70s and it was at the Santa Monica Civic, in California. I remember that the band "Fanny" was also on the bill. Could this be the same concert you have mentioned?

BtP says
It's possible, but a 17-song set suggests a Procol-only evening without time any Fannying. What do others think?

Frans Steensma replies (more from Frans here)

Procol played Santa Monica twice within one year. One was in August 1971, the other in July 1972. According to BtP the review by Alan McDougall is from the 1972 concert. This is wrong, it's from the 1971 concert (now corrected, aloft!). Alan McDougall starts by saying "I saw Procol Harum at the Albert Hall last year." The concert in the Albert Hall was in October 1970, so the review must be from 1971. Simple as that.

Not so simple to answer is whether Michael saw the exact concert Alan McDougall describes. Problem: Procol did two concerts at the Santa Monica Civic in August 1971 - both with Fanny (+ Spencer Davis and Peter Jamison) - one on the 1o August, the other on the 11th.

There is another review on BtP of these August 1971 Santa Monica concerts. Richard Cromelin describes these two Procol shows at the end of his Creem article It's Only Realism (February 1972), starting with: "At two sold out Santa Monica concerts ..." .

At the very end of his article Cromelin writes: "Ball struggles out of his tight suede shirt and mutters someting about making people stop thinking he's Robin Trower." You see, Dave, there's an easy explanation why everybody thought you were Robin. On the poster and all ads in the papers for this Santa Monica concert there are five Procol heads to be seen. And what they didn't forget for the Grand Hotel album cover (switch heads: see here), they did forget here. Four correct heads in these ads, but the fifth is ... Robin Trower. (more head-transplant stories here)

Creem magazine also wrote about Procol Harum at the time of this concert

Note: 'Beyond the Pale' understands that Redhill (19 July 1997) saw the first non-orchestral performance of the whole of In Held 'Twas in I: certainly this seems to have been what Douglas Adams was implying in his introduction. On tour in the Autumn of 1971, however, Procol Harum featured a shortened In Held ... beginning with In the Autumn of my Madness (gigs Stockholm, Fyens, and New York Academy of Music, for example) and it seems highly probable that the show reported above belongs in that sequence. This supposition confirmed by Joan May – thanks Joan – see set-list.

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