Procol Harum

the Pale

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North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly: 23 July 1995

Dean Johnson in The Boston Herald, 27 July 1995

Overlong concert has its moments; The Jefferson Starship, Procol Harum and Steppenwolf at the North Shore Music Theater Tuesday.

Taking in an oldies or classic rock concert can be like listening to Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern: Sometimes you must endure hours of tedium for moments of brilliance.

That was the case Tuesday in Beverly for a 4 1-2-hour show with the Jefferson Starship, Procol Harum and Steppenwolf.

Headliners Jefferson Starship (Original-Member Count: 3) fared best with a 75-minute set that was leaner and meaner than its semi-acoustic House of Blues gig earlier this year.

Founding members Paul Kantner and Marty Balin joined striking new singer Diana Mangano (with a voice uncannily similar to Grace Slick) to create vivid three-part harmonies on oldies Crown of Creation and Volunteers" while guitarist Slick Aguilar tore into I'm on Fire.

But Starship ran into two problems:

Much of the middle-aged crowd of 1,000 left before the 11:30 end.

And, the Starship is functioning too well as a modern-day unit to fit comfortably on a "retro" bill. Nearly half its songs were new, and though those tunes had a solid kick and were well-received, they confused old fans who reacted ravenously to rabid takes of White Rabbit and Somebody to Love.

Procol Harum (OMC: 2) fared better than in its last appearance at the Paradise. Founding organist Matthew Fisher is on board now with original singer Gary Brooker. Journeyman guitarist Geoff Whitehorn has more fully integrated his solo style into the band's music, too.

The band's hour-long show was likable, but it was betrayed by the material. Along with smart renditions of the hits Whiter Shade of Pale and Conquistador, it consisted primarily of the slow and often turgid musical epics that were Procol's trademark.

A playful tune like Ransom was a welcomed relief, and more up-tempo songs from its catalog, such as Simple Sister or Power Failure, would have helped.

Steppenwolf (OMC: 1) is now just founder John Kay and three young turks.

Kay sounds good. But his Las Vegas-y patter between songs was incongruous, and an hour of Steppenwolf was far too much. He can still conjure up heavy metal thunder on Born to Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride, but the more recent tunes rarely cut it.

More Concerts at BtP

Procol's 1995 tour  

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