Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Procol Harum on DVD

'Live at the Union Chapel' : Gary Brooker interviews (2)

This was the last gig of the tour. Did that make a difference to the band's performance? (1.40)

They're all peaks, they're all peaks man. Itís very diff, itís always difficult to tell. Sometimes I, you know, you can come offstage and 'think that was great' or 'that was terrible'. But the artist playing up on stage, what they consider 'great' and 'terrible' are almost impossible for somebody outside to sometimes see. But on ... you know, having said that ... you do have some remarkable gigs sometimes and you do have some somewhere the technicalities of stuff gets wrong ... you know a hall with a terrible sound and things like that. We come on two hours late for some bizarre reason. And that can all affect a night but generally speaking, things are of a, you know, within an area of quality that hopefully, one we donít steer [sic], but weíre always aiming to play better that night than the night before. And thatís what we tried, thatís what we did at Islington. We always try, we always play better or we try to play better than the night before and that was, because it was our last night, I think we played longer, we played some songs that we hadnít played, of course, for a few weeks or something; because suddenly we were in England. So some of our Continental favourites we, you know, we donít particularly play here and then weíll find something else.

What was particularly special about the whole day? (1.10)

I had a very busy day because I had to go up to Buckingham Palace in the morning. I had to get up really early to go to Buckingham Palace to get an award. And Iíd already promised to go out to lunch with some people. And that was also arranged. But then it turns out that weíre playing in London as well. But not only are we playing in London, weíre making a DVD as well. And, I thought, I canít not go to the Palace. And if I go to the Palace, Iíve got to go out for lunch afterwards. And it just made a very, very, a fantastic day that built and built. You know, Iíll never forget that day because from the start to the end of coming, in fact, it didnít end when we came off-stage: we actually went out for something to eat, you know. It was still going at two in the morning because it was the end of tour. So the whole day kind of built and built and built and built. And it was, it was a great, great day. It was also totally exhausting, totally exhausting. 

What is the significance of the third verse of A Whiter Shade of Pale? (2.18)

Yeah, well, on Danny Bakerís show, on the radio in London, which is an early morning show, Iíll go up there, you know, half-past seven. Heís full of beans, as these people that do that kind of job are because theyíve been up since four. Iím still trying to get the cobwebs out of my eyes and saying, you know, ďCan I have my seventh cup of coffee, please?Ē But I think it was somebody 'phoned in. There was quite a lot of interest about whatís known as other, yeah, a 'third' verse of A Whiter Shade of Pale. We very rarely play it, not because we donít like it or it doesnít fit but we have so much material to play that sometimes you could use that minute-and-a-half elsewhere. And it probably takes a good minute-and-a-half to do an extra verse in A Whiter Shade of Pale. And but when we played in Islington at the Union Chapel, in fact, itís never planned, just like our set is never too, too strict. And nobody ever knows how A Whiter Shade of Pale is going to go and what kind of ending it has or how many verses. We generally just do the two verses. But now and again, Iíll take it in my head that, you know, 'These look like they understand English, weíll try another verse'. And if I sing whatís known as the 'third' verse, in fact it comes in the middle of the song, Matthew then knows that therefore this will be a three-verse version so heís got room in one of his instrumental portions to stretch out a bit and play something different. So itís all ... you donít have to write it down on a list, 'A Whiter Shade of Pale with three verses'. If I start, if I donít go ... whatever the words are, if I sing, ďShe said, ĎIím home on shore leaveíĒ, which is, I believe, the, one of the extra verses, then everybody knows that this will be three verses, probably, unless Iíve had a brainstorm.

What does the future hold for Procol Harum? (1.59)

As far as, as far as the future goes, I mean, I mean, people play music because they want to. People play music publicly because somebody else is interested in it as well. Thereís two ways or three ways, perhaps, that those two items can come together. One is by the new method that weíre speaking to now, which is like the audio-visual thing, like with the DVD, which is a replacement, really, for a live show. And I donít think, as much as I like DVDs Ė because they reach people in places that weíre not going to play Ė but live music, to me is something which is eternally important and which weíve always had a strength at. And I would absolutely be distraught if I could not go out and play on stage and go out and play Procol songs. As far as the CD, the audio market goes, I mean, that means writing songs. And I think that, but, you know, weíve quite often written songs just to play on stage with no thought of making a record of them. So it doesnít stop the creative flow if thereís no outlet in certain areas. But, of course, you do have to play them. At some point, you write a song, youíve got to perform it to people. And thatís what, thatís what the future holds. Itís what it held in the first place, and like, which is creating songs to play to people (long pause, mysterious expression). Whoa! Pretty heavy, man.

Thanks, Jill, for the transcription

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More about the Union Chapel DVD More Brooker interviews from the DVD

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