Procol Harum

the Pale

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One More Time: PH Live at Utrecht

Fred Schröter

Fred Schröter was at the 1992 concert this album captures: here are his coments, written for BtP in October 2000

After hearing this new live album one thing was clear to me: Matthew did a great job in mixing it. This is the best live album by Procol on record by far. With a lot of nice rocking.

The sound of the instruments is much more balanced than at the actual performance. I think that I can hear more organ and less guitar and bass, but maybe that was because it was so very loud, not earsplitting as Robin would have liked to play with the band, but it was quite close to that. Most of the time it was that guitar sounding too harsh and too prominent.

Back then I missed a lot of what was going on because my ears couldn't cope with the volume, I guess.

After all these years it was good to hear it again. And I think it better than I had imagined.

Funny thing is, that the audience only gave that applause of recognition when Homburg, Grand Hotel and A Salty Dog were played.

The opening of Shine on Brightly was after a Piggy Pig Pig fashion surprisingly turning into that great track of the album of the same name and Homburg was already a bit like that version on the symphonic Procol Harum opening in that same, hesitant way. Here we can hear how much Gary's voice has changed over the years, sounding a bit rough, a voice just like that of Ray Charles, always worth listening to and always getting better.

One More Time is sounding more energetic, but then that is so with most of the songs they played from The Prodigal Stranger, but that was also my experience at the concert itself. But they do not come close to the atmosphere of the studio versions. On The Prodigal Stranger they sounded so very much like a group that found new energy to make music together and it is that energy coming out of your speakers that makes The Prodigal Stranger such a great record! Listen to other reunion bands and you will hear what I mean. They don't sound greyish, the sound youngish.

Grand Hotel in a version that sounded better than the live versions I have heard before, when they played in the Netherlands with Mick Grabham, Alan Cartwright and Chris Copping. I think that the subtle changes in the organ notes and the very well-played synthesizer add a lot to the atmosphere of Grand Hotel: it was not the massive dense sound they produced in the seventies. I only missed the spots going out and candles burning instead ...

Man With A Mission is Procol Harum, for their mission was making beautiful music with a lot of quality that most groups lacked in the sixties and early seventies.

The Devil Came From Kansas is again an illustration of how Gary's voice has matured. It is followed by Whiskey Train. Note the Irish (or American) way of spelling "whiskey" on the sleeve and CD. This version has a more pumping rock sound than the version on Home, and I think that Mark's drumming only falls apart in his solo. I can not find the point he is heading for so to me it is just sounding as if he is just hitting away. But for the greater part he does a fine job, just when he did when asked to play in the backing bands of the Prince's Trust Concerts. And please listen to his fabulous drumming on Pastime with Good Company on the Within Our House cd. He is a perfect counterpoint for the choir!

King of Hearts, although one of the better tracks of this live record, is every now and again spoilt by the guitar, because Geoff Who? misses that subtle touch that Robin could produce, that softly rolling in of that sustained guitar sound and which was one of the things I liked in Mick Grabham's playing.

He does that again in A Salty Dog, he just misses subtlety. He is too loud for Procol Harum, he should be humble and step into the background instead of trying to be in the foreground.

In All Our Dreams Are Sold I dearly miss Robin's way of playing. Although it is quite well performed here.

After buying Pandora's Box and listening to the longer version of Repent Walpurgis I could not help to notice that the guitar player is a bit of a copy cat. But as he is on the payroll of the Procol bosses, I guess he had to play that way. And maybe that was the best thing to do!

But of course this masterpiece shows the genius of Matthew and is a memorable closing of a live disk performance by Procol Harum.

Apart from some minor remarks above I think that Matthew in his mixing improved a lot of the performance put to the disk. If I listen to it now I think I enjoy it much more than at the actual date it took place, sitting on the front row. But then again if you have been there, took a sample of the atmosphere and buried that somewhere in your brain, it now all has come out again. I was sorry to miss the opening Conquistador: although the organ was not to be heard it sounded great for an opening ...

And why not put AWSoP on the disk?

[It's almost 75 minutes already … no more room! RC]

Order this album from 'Shine On'

About the album

More Procol albums, studio and live

A review of this concert

Fred's own concert review

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