Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum : 'Scenes From A Doll's House'

Sound comments …

Scott Outten from Colorado wrote to the Procol list
I agree with Alan's concert review on only one point: Cerdes (Outside The Gates Of) was also the highlight for me.

However, I believe he is being too harsh concerning the performance, and perhaps was positioned too near the stage. From what I understand, there were only a handful of rehearsals total for this one-time-only show; and perhaps only one or two with orchestra. With this in mind I was amazed and delighted with the performances!

As for the sound balance, I stood, sat, and wandered around (because it was cold and I had binoculars). Most of the time I was positioned near the soundbooth quite some distance from the stage. I found that the sound balance was much better there; and best about 20 feet behind the sound engineer's tent. I really enjoyed the show!

One more comment maybe some one else can clear up: "a thousand souls"? If there were 500 people at this concert I would be surprised!

Richard Beck from Memphis wrote to the Procol list
I listened to the first several songs from the "front row." Alan's comments regarding the mix were an entirely accurate description of what I also heard from that vantage point. I seemed to be hearing the stage amps and Gary's voice coming from the stage's monitor speakers. However when I made a move to snap pictures from the opposite side of the stage, my circuitous route took me out beyond the sound system speakers which had previously been behind me and to the side.

The sound immediately opened up into a wonderfully balanced and crisp mix which revealed all of the sonorous elements which Alan seemed to be missing. Gary's voice and the orchestra and choir then slid forward in the mix as the guitar receded, and I was stunned by the clarity of the sound system. Virtually perfect. No distortion. Exquisite! I suspect that Alan's review would have been quite different had he moved farther from the stage.

The topic of orchestral members slumming within the Rock genre also come up in later conversation. I can only report that I did witness a violinist near Gary removing earplugs after the first song or two. I didn't notice if she reinserted them later. But I assume that she seated herself prepared for the worst. Most of them seemed to be wearing their best "poker faces" which revealed very little of whatever internal dialogue they were having with themselves. Do you get the feeling that if several were subjected to post-concert interviews then we might have distilled some sort of objective explanation of the reasons that Procol Harum never captured center stage in the hearts and minds of the masses? ("Charming lads, but what in the world were they singing about")?

The apparently sparse rehearsal with orchestra (and without) became slightly noticeable in a few fringe moments of missed cues and obscure notes, but overall was insignificant, to my ears anyway. (I am mindful that I had spent 5 weeks at home surgically engaged in a forensic study of many Procol songs, and the previous night had spent a frantic two hours butchering the same at the Palers' Convention. God has forgiven me, but can Gary ever do so?) I don't think Alan's review was particularly nitpicky either. It was a good read and I enjoyed it. I sincerely hope he gets to write another one very, very soon.


Sev Lewkowicz from Sussex wrotes to BtP
The chap who wrote criticising the sound at the gig dropped himself right in it (in my opinion) by saying that he could see the violinists fighting over the chairs! If he was that close he was in the wrong position to hear the PA properly. I sat up near the sound desk, and although I maybe couldn't see quite as well, I did get the sound as good as it was going to be.

I thought the sound man did a pretty good job, considering the degree of difficulty involved. His criticisms of the sound all seemed to me to be a result of being too close to the stage to get the best result from the PA. But hey - I'm a sound techie as well - and of course I know where to sit to get the best result!

I actually went over to the sound man for a chat after the gig, and congratulated him on getting the sound so good on what must have been a hellish job! I genuinely thought he did a fine job. It's actually harder to mix sound in the open, there was no lengthy soundcheck, he basically had to mix it 'on the hoof' so to speak.

BtP has an interesting article about open-air PH sound at the Hollywood Bowl, and you can also read an exchange of letters in which the Hollywood Bowl feedback problem is elucidated

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