Jack Lloyd, 10 April 1972, in some Pittsburgh daily
After an absence of 15 months hard rock returned to the Academy of Music on Sunday night.
Not just any hard rock act, of course. After all, there is rock and there is rock and a lot of it can be called class rock, which is what a sellout crowd at the Academy was rewarded with Sunday night.
Procol Harum, that durable English group wich [sic] emerged some seven years ago with an intelligent, tasteful touch at a time when rock needed just this medicine was chosen by Electric Factory Concerts for the occasion, and it isn't likely that a better choice could have been made.
After all how could the Academy people resist a group that has recently recorded an album with the Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) Symphony ?
Well the Edmonton Symphony couldn't make it Sunday night, and the Philadelphia Orchestra wasn't available, but Procol Harum managed to hold its own anyway, filling the Academy with thunderous explosions of electric sound just like the good old days.
And where does it say that a class rock act can't be loud?
Procol Harum is manned by vocalist-pianist Gary Brooker, Chris Copping on organ, guitarist [sic] Alan Cartwright, Dave Ball on bass [sic] and drummer BJ Wilson.
There have been a number of changes in personnel since the group was first founded by Brooker and Keith Reid who writes lyrics for Procal [sic] Harum's music but prefers to . remain behind the scenes.
But these changes are not all that important, because the music of Procol Harum is restless and constantly searches for new directions. Yet never really turning its back on the past.
And so the Academy concert was, to a great extent, a fully-cycle [sic] look at Procol Harum. Its past and present.
The group is lovingly remembered for such past delights as A Whiter Shade of Pale, A Salty Dog, Homburg, Whaling Stories and Simple Sister. And several newer numbers performed at the Academy make it clear that the group has lost little of the old style.
Recordings can never quite duplicate the total majesty in musicianship and sound frequently hit by Procol Harum in live concerts.
But the one drawback of seeing the group live is that Reid's lyrics are heard only now and then. Brooker sings with impact, but it is humanly impossible to compete with the force of the amplified instruments.
And Reid's lyrics are indeed worth hearing. He is not always profound, but his words are rarely uninteresting. He is a man of almost constant sorrow, reaching into the depths of despair for tales that that are frequently downright spooky. Often fascinating.
More Procol Harum concerts