Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum at Raleigh, NC, USA

Sam Lynn reports 25 July 2012

My wife and I were there -- we drove up from Charlotte, which is about 160 miles away.  I would not miss a Procol Harum show just because of a little bit of distance!  Raleigh Amphitheater is a fairly new outdoor venue in the heart of downtown Raleigh.  It is nice, with good sightlines.  We had reserved seats, and were happy to discover they were on the third row.

Before the show, I went to purchase a Procol tee-shirt (expensive at $35!!), and ran into Geoff Whitehorn and Matt Pegg at the booth.  My wife and I talked to them for a few minutes, and both were extremely friendly.  We asked Geoff about the previous night's show in Munhall, PA (Pittsburgh).  The place they played, the Carnegie Library, has a reputation for being haunted (my wife and I both grew up in Pittsburgh), and was recently featured on Ghost Hunters.  Geoff said the band had heard of those reports, but that they didn't see anything "until the lights went out -- then it was spooky!"  I asked him about the setlist for Raleigh, and he said that it would be the same as Munhall, although they were planning on changing it at some point on the tour.  Finally, I asked him which style of tee-shirt I should purchase, and he chose the one with the combined piano/guitar motif for me.  So, I now have a Procol tee-shirt specifically picked out for me by Geoff Whitehorn -- very cool

The show started a few minutes early, and the amphitheater was not completely filled.  I suspect the early start (by about five or ten minutes) results from the fact that Raleigh has a 10:30 PM curfew for outdoor live music on week nights. Although there was a threat of rain (bad storms the previous night), the weather mercifully held.  The band did indeed stick to the set list from the previous night.  The sound was problematic during the first two songs, as the drums were too loud, and Gary's vocals couldn't be heard too well.  However, as the night wore on the mix got much better.  

Most of the people in the audience were Yes fans, and I even heard one woman refer to Procol as a "one-song wonder".  I honestly don't think a lot of people were that familiar with the band's body of work, as A Salty Dog hardly caused a stir when it was played.  However, the Procol fans in the crowd were ecstatic, and as the set proceeded, there was more excitement in the audience, as people started to realize just how good this band is!  Highlights (for me) were Homburg, A Salty Dog, Outside the Gates of Cerdes, A Whiter Shade of Pale, and Conquistador.  

The band was tight, obviously having fun, and Gary's voice was great -- he sounded better than I expected he would after his South African mishap, although he did look tired.  I think the heat affected him (it was about 90 F at show-time), as he mentioned how hot it was and asked what it would equate to in Celsius.  He also mentioned how much he liked the blues and how much it affected his music over the years, because he was "born in the Delta ... the Thames Delta".  

Geoff Whitehorn was a master on guitar, and Josh Phillips brought a lot of the crowd to its feet with his great organ work in Cerdes, AWSoP, and Conquistador. Again, Gary's voice was wonderful ... he sounded much like he did when I saw the band at Madison Square Garden in 1975.  His vocals on A Salty Dog actually made my wife start to tear up!

Yes was good, but my wife and I were there for Procol Harum, and we were not disappointed.  Hopefully, the band will continue to tour the US, and make another swing this way.  

As far as I can remember, the set list was: Wall Street Blues / As Strong As Samson / Pandora's Box / Homburg / An Old English Dream / A Salty Dog / Simple Sister / Outside The Gates Of  Cerdes / A Whiter Shade Of Pale / Conquistador

And ... they threw in one extra song on request during the middle of the set:  one verse from Goodnight, Irene ... someone in the audience either had a birthday or an anniversary.  The band nailed it, and maybe it will show up on a future album?

Thanks for the opportunity to fill you in on the show!

Procol dates in 2012 | Booking information

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