When Procol Harum previously played around town in 2010, the group appeared alongside Jethro Tull at Ravinia and was subject to the time restrictions of a support act. Nearly a decade later, the English art rockers finally returned for a complete headlining concert, giving those who filled every nook and cranny of the refined City Winery over two hours of material during the opener of a two-night stand.
Since its lengthy absence from the area, Procol Harum released a pair of studio projects, a couple [of] live albums, plus the fiftieth-anniversary box set and streamlined double disc of the same name Still There’ll be More. “There’ll be some songs you know and a few you don’t, but that’s just the way it goes,” joked singer/piano player Gary Brooker to a captive crowd, who appeared open to basically anything.
And that’s specifically what the founding leader and supporting members who joined in either the ‘90s or 2000s delivered in ideal form, kicking off the early portion with the soulful newcomer I Told On You (from 2017’s Novum) through the retro Simple Sister, which charged like a locomotive on its way to the interval. After a chance for some drink specialties, Procol Harum returned refreshed and ready to roll through mounds more from its classic rock canon with equal emphasis placed on progressive, symphonic, blues and heavier stylings.
Businessman was another recent musical crest that served as a commentary on corruption, while vintage cuts such as A Salty Dog and Conquistador kept right on resonating a half century later with their fascinatingly unconventional approaches. As expected, one of prog rock’s earliest archetypes A Whiter Shade of Pale (inducted into both the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame) was saved for last, finding Brooker and all of Procol Harum on their A-game and again seeming well ahead of the curve with a global classic that was probably capable of maxing out at least a couple more City Winery shows on its way to immortality.