Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum and Orchestra at Wilmington DE, USA

The After-Show Party, 4/5 December 2010

Good Evening All,

Sorry for the delay in my follow-up report of Procol Harum with The Delaware Symphony Orchestra and The Opera Delaware Chorus on 4 December 2010. Between the After Party which went 'til 2 am, an all nighter in The du Pont Lobby with Gary ('til 4:30 am), Matt (fell asleep on a very comfortable lobby sofa at 6:00 am) and Geoff Whitehorn (who outlasted me: I headed back to my room at 7:00 am), a few hours' sleep and a six-hour drive back to upstate New York, there just wasn't any time to get this out before now. To say the members of this band are 'accessible' is the understatement of the decade. Not only is Procol the best band, these guys: Gary, Geoff, Matt, Josh and Geoff are really nice people. They are genuine, unpretentious, generous with their time and in general, just fun people to be around. I couldn't pass Gary, Geoff W or Matt in the lobby or elevator without an "Eh Bub, 'ow's it goin?'."

Enough of that. I'm just sayin'...

To the important events of the evening -

In Held 'Twas In I was not to be. Speaking with Matt Pegg outside the du Pont Saturday morning, we learned that the set was limited to 75 minutes, in part due to the orchestra's union although Gary later said there was more to it than just that. Matt said the set list had to be submitted months ago and though at the Friday rehearsal, Gary tried to add the Grand Finale from In Held, it wasn't going to happen.

As the show opened, Gary announced that this was the first time since the 1973 performance at The Hollywood Bowl that Procol was invited to perform with a symphony orchestra in the US and that "... this is the first ever on the East Coast." (that sounds familiar.) He later confided to me (much later) that he wasn't kidding about what he had said about this being the first invitation from a US orchestra since 1973 and that "... it's a shame we haven't done at least forty concerts with symphony orchestras in the US in the last forty years." Wow, how true. (More on this and other things later.)

The performance, though short, was amazing; astounding; spectacular! To my ear, the orchestra did a fine job, the chorus was excellent and the energy level of the band was frenetic. No pictures allowed but if any were taken, you'd likely to see - Gary's right foot, not tapping the floor but stomping the floor; Matt Pegg doing "lean-ins" to Josh on his left and Geoff Dunn on his right and eliciting big smiles, laughs and affirmative head bobs from both; Geoff Whitehorn exhibiting especially exotic facial contortions. These guys were ON.

Yes the band was on. Gary Brooker was ON. His vocals, no, his voice is better than ever. It's funny, if you listen to (or better yet, attended) Procol's performances at Union Chapel or In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra yes Gary's voice is great but I swear, it's better now. It was better at this concert. Talking to Geoff Whitehorn latter (yea, much latter), he agreed. Geoff said, "Gary's voice is like a fine wine. It gets better with age." (heard that before?) (Ginger says, "Gary's voice is like wine, it's intoxicating.")

The After Party - Well, it certainly lasted much longer than the concert and was just as special. Someone, Evan maybe, added, "It seems that the Commander, at any rate, had an appetite for more..." I'm not sure about that but I do know Kathy Layfield (keys and lead vocals of a Wilmington band named Club Phred) emailed GB after the concert an invite to join Club Phred in The Gold Ballroom where they headlined the After Party at The du Pont Hotel. Sure enough, In The Wee Small Hours of 5 December 2010 in the Gold Ballroom of The du Pont Hotel, Gary Brooker did indeed join Club Phred in a three-verse rendition of A Whiter Shade of Pale!

OK, enough for now. I still have to get up and go to work tomorrow. The band was to leave Delaware 5/12, 6:00 pm ish and should be arriving Heathrow soon where Geoff W and Matt can replenish their Virginia and Kentucky grown tobacco at "ridiculously cheap and tax free prices." Thanks to the impressive staff we met of The Grand: Danny, Meredith, Jeff and Steve for your kindness and for a gift of immeasurable value. A special thanks to the Procol band members who shared their time, their thoughts and their "space" with Cheryl and me. We had a blast. (Much more later)

Lastly, thanks to all you Procol fans for your time in reading this excessively long post.
Good night,
Bob (Bub)

Procol dates in 2010 | More about this show

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