Procol Harum

the Pale

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AWSoP with not a vestal virgin in sight

Charlie Allison, on Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

Rothes Hall, Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland : 21 June 2000

(a shopping centre venue which reminded me of Redhill) : good-humoured, technically-excellent ensemble playing of the familiar Rhythm Kings' repertoire.

Highlights of a two-hour set included a wonderful rendition of I Put a Spell on You by Beverley Skeete, which became increasingly agonised as she wrestled vocally with Frank Mead's adjacent sax and physically with her own unravelling dress (does this happen every night? As they say in the theatre, 'I think they should keep this bit in'!)

The guitar virtuosity of Martin Taylor and Albert Lee was then seen to its full extent on Tear it Up, which they concluded by duelling with their four hands playing one instrument.

Gary again did many of the introductions and managed to engage the audience in typical whimsy over his Dad's tale of the origin of bagpipes, Scottish weather, fox-hunting and a bad curry he may have had in Ayr the previous night. He also did a devastatingly accurate impression of Jools Holland.

He sang lead in three or four Rhythm Kings' songs, notably Jitterbug and Hole in the Wall, plus his own Lead Me to the Water which suffered a shade from a duff note in the first verse when someone entered in the wrong key.

A high spot for me, and for many others, was A Whiter Shade of Pale, played three-handed as the first encore by Gary (who sang it beautifully) Georgie Fame (sympathetic Hammond organ) and Frank Mead (truly wonderful soprano sax).

Strangely it was an unusual, (possibly unique?) two-verse version, but with Gary singing the first and second verses, omitting the customary third verse - not a vestal virgin in sight. The piano introduction also threw me, as Gary started with A Salty Dog preamble, a bar of Grand Hotel and possibly a hint of the Four Tops before commencing the familiar AWSoP to warm applause. At the conclusion Bill Wyman observed 'Well how do you follow that?': to be fair Georgie Fame & Martin Taylor's Georgia on my Mind was similarly stunning.

At the end of the show, I sent Gary a bottle of Scotland's best throat medicine to sustain him over his journey back South, with a message of thanks for all the music past and future. I did note that the programme suggested he was currently writing for a new album!

Thanks, Charlie

Rhythm Kings 2000 tour

More Brooker / Rhythm Kings information here

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