Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum in The Kremlin Palace, Moscow

Peter Cohen's 'Letter from Moscow', 29 May 2001

It could have been Grand Hotel the way the hall was laid out. In fact we were inside the Kremlin, the Kremlin Palace to be exact, and Procol were playing Moscow for the first time.

The sides of the hall had been left for the true fans but in the middle, for the elite of Moscow society, tables had been laid out as if for dinner. Unfortunately the front row of tables was left unoccupied so clearly the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, hadn’t been able to make it.

We were told that two floors down in another hall the Bolshoi were performing but once Procol had started (with Bringing Home the Bacon followed by Shine on Brightly) the ballet was probably totally drowned out. We certainly never heard it.

Perhaps the élite were expecting to hear the ballet; they had arrived looking as if it was Royal Ascot (one lady had the right hat for it) if not the Chelsea Flower Show! By the time Procol had played Typewriter Torment and Outside The Gates of Cerdes, she must have wondered if she had got the right hall.

Speaking to a local journalist afterwards he said this concert was an opportunity for some of the youngsters in the 60s and 70s to hear live the music they should have then but were starved of by the communists.

All the old favourites like Homburg, Salty Dog, Conquistador, Pandora’s Box (and Grand Hotel) were well received and judging by the ovation, well worth waiting for. However, they cannot have known the songs that well as the applause on both Whaling Stories and Repent Walpurgis started in the usual places before the end.

Beyond the Pale which always had a Russian flavour to it was included as was As Strong as Samson with a slight revamp.

Not-regularly-played live TV Caesar and New Lamps for Old were refreshing additions to the play list. Whisky Train and Rambling On were also on the running order but did not get played – what had happened to the words to Rambling On?

Whiter Shade of Pale ended the concert and sent the locals home happy; they had the choice that night of either going to hear The Eagles or Procol? As one Russian couple told me, they only knew Hotel California by The Eagles so chose Procol as they knew both AWSoP and Conquistador!

Procol Harum, on Gary’s birthday, made the most of a unique venue, quite a contrast to the Bridgewater Hall coming up later this month. Don’t miss it!

Thanks, Peter

Set-list for this gig Index of Russian dates, 2001
Procol Harum concerts in 2001: index page  

Thanks, Jonas Söderström, for the banner!

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