Procol Harum

the Pale

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Jethro Tull at Wolf Trap

Jacquie Kubin in The Washington Times, 10 June 2010

Tonight was a night four decades, if not more, in the making. 

Returning to the beautiful Filene Center stage at Wolf Trap Jethro Tull, 62 year old Ian Anderson fleet of foot and flute, recreated many of his greatest songs alongside his career long friend Martin Barre.

The evening was welcoming cool after last week's heat wave and Wolf Trap was not only lush and lovely, but the people as nice as one expects from this heritage DC Metro Area venue.

The evening begins with Gary Booker [sic] and Procol Harum (Geoff Whitehorn/lead guitar, Matt Pegg/bass guitar, Geoff Dunn/percussion and Josh Phillips/Hammond organ) in their first stop on a 2010 fifteen venue tour.

Silver haired booker [sic] sang ala Steve Winwood, with sheet music in place as the rest of the band provided a backbone that, with the overload of dueling keyboard and organ, might have been tough.  I think it is safe to safe [sic] the guitarist Whitehorn was absolutely pleased to be on stage as he grimaced and grinned through his parts.

The group riffed through an approximate forty-five minute set that included Once we had a Highway [sic], One Eye on the Future, One Eye on the Past, The Devil Came from Kansas, Pandora's Box, A Salty Dog, the audience favorite Whiter Shade of Pale and closing with the obscure Kaleidoscope from the band's first self-titled album (1967).  That album also held Procol Harum's most significant commercial hits Whiter Shade of Pale and Conquistador [sic].

The band raised a bit of the late 60s era consciousness with a new bit of song, War is Not Healthy, a song that stands out not only for it being something entirely different but also as it is not instantly recognizable as Procol Harum. 

The sentiments of this 2003-hard driving ballad would be as appropriate in 1969 as in 2010.

The predominantly older audience, with a few kids sprinkled in here and there, most of the young ones out with 'dad' for the night, politely received Procol Harum, but they were obviously there for Jethro Tull ...

Interestingly this bland article has generated a lot of responses here: we present a selection ...

Barry Feldman
I went to the June 11th show at Jones Beach. While I was always a big Jethro Tull fan, I really went to see Gary Brooker. I was a little disappointed that Robin Trower was not there to play lead guitar, but Geoff Whitehorn did a great job, as did all the rest. Gary Brooker's voice is still as strong as it ever was. He wrote all the Procol Harum music, while Keith Reid wrote the words. Ian Anderson's voice is not what it was, but his act is still as captivating as it was when I saw Tull at the Fillmore East a lifetime ago. I may be biased, but I don't think Gary Brooker should ever be the opening act for any other group!

Joseph Szadkowski
This was their - PH's - first show. It might have been just a comfort thing for them... like a live dress rehearsal. Give it a go before they take the big stage. Booker was great. Remember listening to the album Trower of Power in the 70s. Good stuff. Thanks for reading!

Walter O
Also saw them last night in Boston. Procol Harum got more than a polite reception here -- people really seemed to enjoy them, giving them standing ovations for the 3-4 most memorable songs. (Would have been even better if the sound was not quite so loud/ bassy.)

Hate to rain on anyone's parade. Saw them in Boston last night. Procol Harem was the better band - too bad they only get 45 minutes. Conquistador was shockingly powerful. J Tull - they lost me in the middle of the show. Good beginning, great ending, but the middle was boring to say the least. Too much amorphic folk peudo-jazz songs including an atrocious song about a Hare and the Wine Cup? and a very bland (silent scream) song that he wrote in India last year that went on and on. They have so much better material to jam around. Also, too much flute, not enough Barre.

The Professor
Alas, time marches on and takes it's toll. Mr. Anderson's voice is alarmingly weak these days, but J.Tull still rocks instrumentally. I would agree wholeheartedly with the previous comment here that Procol Harum should not be an opening act for anyone. This is a band that still "has it" and remarkably, Gary Brooker's vocals are as good as or better than even in the band's glory days. And that band (with most current members serving 15 years or more) is as tight an ensemble as ever. Here's hoping that someone has the good sense to soon sponsor a solo Procol tour (perhaps in support of their upcoming new album???) ; this is clearly a band that is not only still sounding great, but still creating new material that stands proudly alongside their classic canon.

Angela Brown
We understand she is biased in the extreme, but a little respect for an outstanding band of musical geniuses (Procol Harum, in case I must make it clear) would have done this "reviewer" credit. Also basic proof-reading might be expected of an "award-winning veteran" writer ("Booker"? "booker" with no capital initial? "welcoming cool" ... and on and on). The song titles as given are also mostly incorrect and the acidly disparaging critique shows a total lack of musical knowledge and a distressing inability to appreciate greatness when confronted with it. Gary Brooker "singing ala Steve Winwood"? Gary has been singing as himself for his entire illustrious career (about 48 years and counting). His voice and Steve Winwood's may be similar, but Ms. Kubin makes it sound like Gary is somehow derivative (and it should be la, not ala). I can't believe this piece was actually published. Waxing lyrical about Jethro Tull while dismissing Procol Harum in a few laughably petty sentences ("the group riffed") shows a lack of balanced judgment. Better stick to culinary writing, I think.

Jacquie Kubin
Angela -- thank you so much for pointing out my typos. I meant Mr. Brooker no disrespect and welcome cool is obviously, though wrong and you are right it is unforgivable to make an error for anyone at anytime, the result of spell check. The comment "singing a la Steve Winwood (and the accented a was similarly a victim of cut and pasting from one program to the other... again, unforgivable to make and error and I am so absolutely humbled that someone who never makes one would take the time to point mine out, so thank you for that! .. was a personal opinion. Obviously I am not as much a fan as Procol Harum as you are. And that is really ok.

Angela Brown
Jacquie, thank you for your response. Your sarcasm (petty albeit understandable) has been duly registered. However, you have completely missed the point. I certainly don't claim to be perfect, but would expect a little more attention to detail from someone who describes herself as a professional (published) writer. Again in your seven-line reply, I see no less than five errors. And, before you come up with more excuses, let me tell you that English is not my first language, so I am very aware of my own shortcomings. What I found objectionable was your frankly dismissive critique of a most influential and talented band while, in the same breath, you lavished extravagant praise on the other band. Musical appreciation is undoubtedly a personal thing but there was no need to be so cutting. For example, and I quote: "I think it is safe to safe the guitarist Whitehorn was absolutely pleased to be on stage as he grimaced and grinned through his parts." What exactly are you trying to say? A comment on how Geoff Whitehorn's playing style differs from that of previous Procol Harum lead guitarists would have been interesting, even if it only reflected your personal opinion, but all you can find to comment (negatively) on is his facial expressions. There is much more I could say, but I won't. On one point, however, I must correct you: the name is Brooker (B-R-O-O-K-E-R), not Booker as you persist in calling this exceptional musician. If you are not sure of your facts, remember: Wikipedia is your friend; or else just ask anyone who knows about contemporary music.

Procol dates in 2010

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