Procol Harum

the Pale

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Goodnight Mr. Barney Brooker

Ringo and his All Starr band in Orlando

Jose Rios reports

It wasn't real, my four year old daughter could not believe what she was seeing: 'Come on, he's the real Barney, give him a hug !' She could not believe what she was seeing but she was sure it was the real Barney and we were all certain that she was right! The 'close encounter' with the purple creature was the highlight of her whole trip and, anyhow when you are in Magic Kingdom you are faced with these 'hard-to-believe' situations where it is hard to draw a line between reality and fantasy.

This is even more true when you are out of Universal Studios, walk a few steps and read a sign 'Ringo and his ONE STARR band' (you know who I am referring to).You walk inside and gather with two thousand people anxiously waiting to see the show.

After a brief wait the 'All Starr Band' appear in stage. Gary wears a purple (coincidence !) coat and French hat (we call it 'boina' in Spanish), sits on the left side, piano in front, organ in back. I will not make a summary of the songs that were played by the members of the band; this has been very well done in previously released concert reviews, needless to say it was fine stuff, incredibly well-played music.

Only guess which were my three favourites ... the set begins with a charming version of Whisky Train where guitar plays a second rôle and Gary's piano takes the front line, a really nice surprise (would love to have this version on record .. Would Love To Have This Version On Record, Gazza !).

Salty Dog was at the beginning a small concern due that I thought that maybe the band could not play it properly and accompany Gary. Being not an 'easy-listening song' things came out great and Gary's voice, by far the best of the line-up, sounded as glorious and powerful as ever. You could close you eyes and imagine you were listening to the original recording: really very emotional.

A Whiter Shade of Pale, of course the best-known song for the general audience, was the only song of the whole gig played with special light effects adding a very special atmosphere. Timmy Capello, a 'handy musician' who plays almost everything, makes a convincing job on the organ and all musicians enjoy playing this legendary song which earns a well deserved stand-p ovation and a few 'heart attacks' (including mine).

After the gig Franky Brooker, so kind as always, manages to take my family backstage; she explains to the security guy in the door 'This is a crazy Peruvian that went to London for three days just to see Gary play.' The security guy puts a polite face like ' I don't believe you but come in,' and I am faced with the 'one starr': this is my second 'encounter' with Gary, he looks very relaxed, always smiling and I say, 'Hello Gary this is my family'.

He signs a concert poster and we take a couple of pictures; a little chat with the Brookers and you begin to realize what a nice couple and great team they are. I guess that such wonderful music can only be made by such wonderful people and, therefore you begin to wonder if you can use the term 'Procol fan': surely 'Procol friend' defines much better what you can feel for this wonderful music and for the people who created it.

After the concert my wife confesses that after seeing Gary perform live and after meeting the Brookers she is quite impressed with the music, but mainly with their kindness and class. OK it is 11:30 pm, time to leave now, Gary and Franky must be really exhausted (this was the last concert of the two-month tour): we are also really tired (my younger daughter is asleep in mom's arms) and we still have to walk 'hundred of miles' in the parks in the following days.

I don't know when I will be able to meet this wonderful couple and to see Gary perform again but I am sure that whenever I can I will try to be there. I know also that it is not really to transmit what you feel (I could not earn my living as a writer!) but what I can also assure is that if you try for yourself you will be more than rewarded. My older daughter and wife say thanks to Franky and Gary: I think 'Come on he is the real Gary, give him a hug !'. The line between reality and fantasy begins to blur and then you realize that the only real things are those which you feel in your heart:

'Thank you for such a wonderful time, see you again soon, good night Mr Barney Brooker'



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