Procol Harum

the Pale 

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'How Far Can Sailors Fly …'

Liner-note for the CD of the Palers' Band at Kristiansand

It was an enthusiastic and excited gang of people that gathered in Kristiansand one Friday in May 2001. Most had never met before, except through brief e-mails discussing how to solve the task at hand: in less than 24 hours to rehearse and perform a dozen Procol Harum songs to an international audience – which later turned out to include all the members of Procol Harum themselves.

The Palers' Band in Guildford some eight months earlier had proven that it could be done. Dedicated and well-prepared amateur musicians can achieve much in very short time. ‘Better than it deserved to be’ was a comment about the Guildford Palers, considering the minimal time available for rehearsing. And, this Norwegian weekend, the second edition of the Palers' Band was to prove that the fire from Guildford was still burning brightly. Yet this time it would be different, with only four of the Guildford gang present: the remainder of the musicians were new to the band, and to the experience.

'How good will the others be? And will we feel comfortable with each other as friends and musicians?' Insecurity was apparent in many faces as we assembled in the boardroom of Agder Fotballkrets, just outside our base camp, the Quality Kristiansand Hotel, and in the same building as Procol Harum would play the following day. ‘To be listened to in the spirit in which it was made,’ was the watchword of the day. With enthusiasm and open minds the selected songs were tackled, nobody expecting more than doing their best under the given circumstances, and most of all having fun.

To Guildford veterans there were no surprises: the Palers were just lovely, friendly and having a very good time. Rehearsals continued well into the night, and resumed early next morning on the stage where the afternoon's Palers' Party was going to take place – and with the proper instruments finally present. Above all reigned the twin-Leslie powered Hammond C3, kindly lend by Atle Lægreid and Lægreid Turisthotell, and driven all the long way from Sogndal by Hammond-virtuoso Gunnar Stedje. ‘You had a better Hammond set-up than us,’ Matthew Fisher commented later that night, having played his Separation on it.

The audience at the Palers' Party were all warmed up with drinks and videos when the Palers' Band nervously prepared to take the stage for the first of their two sets of the afternoon, which was itself a 'warm-up' for the night's main event: Procol Harum in Sørlandshallen, across the street. But everybody’s self-confidence was given a difficult test when all the members of Procol Harum entered the room just as we launched into the opening riff of Shine On Brightly (a song Procol Harum were to play for us in their concert later that evening).  But Gary acknowledged the Palers' Band with typical wit and generosity, as you will hear!

On this CD we try to capture the atmosphere of the Palers' Party. It’s a single-microphone audience recording, so don’t expect hi-fi sound and well-balanced mixing. And no dubbing has been done, so you’ll hear it all, blunders and misses included. But we also hope you’ll get a glimpse of the joy and comradeship we shared, and listen to it in the spirit in which it was made.

This CD documents the second edition of the Palers' Band: only weeks later a third edition assembled in Manchester, containing veterans from Guildford and Kristiansand, and adding many who were playing in the Palers' Band for their first time. But the excitement and wonderful experience was still the same – as it will be when we find our next opportunity to meet for friendship and music.

‘How far can Palers fly?’ – 'As far as it takes' would seem to be the most proper answer.


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How Far Can Sailors Fly ?

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Procol Harum in Kristiansand

More about this Palers' Kristiansand CD

Who played what on this recording

The Palers' Band

Incidentally you may also hear the Manchester Palers' Band, and clips of the Guildford Palers' Band here and here


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