Procol Harum

the Pale

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Coliseum concert contains surprises

Bob Claypool in the Houston Post, 1974

PROCOL HARUM – English rock band performed in concert Wednesday night in the Sam Houston Coliseum. Also on the bill, Golden Earring and Poco. A Howard Stein production.

This one had something for everybody – hard-rocking antics for young teens (and teens-at-heart) from Dutch group Golden Earring; rockin’-chair-country-styled sounds from Poco for those who prefer more breezy, finally, smiling music and, well-orchestrated pieces for more “serious students” from Procol Harum.

All of these potential promises were delivered in a concert that stretched, groaningly, over a four-hour time span, bringing in the Fourth [of July, a public holiday in America] with pleasing, if somewhat subdued, colors.

Despite the length (and that numbing sensation that comes from too long a time in a folding chair), some surprises were issued up, too – notably, by the first two bands.

Golden Earring, Holland-based and making their first US tour, proved to be a show group of outstanding potential. They are NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, a great group – their solos ranged, for example, from workmanlike to lurchingly demented – but they DO possess enough stageflash and tense ensemble work to make you glad to be there.

Poco proved to be a surprise, too – at least for people who wondered how the band would survive without Richie Furay. The answer is “very well indeed,” if Wednesday’s set is any indication.

In a fine 70-minute set that started listlessly but ended in a roar, Poco emphasized the post-Furay material (Drivin’ Wheel, Faith In the Families), while throwing in some oldies (Hoe-Down and Restrain). Rusty Young is more out-front now, with a staggering array of steel guitars, and is providing the band with a first-rate stage presence.

The surprisingly small crowd demanded, and got, an encore.

Procol came on at 11:35, rolling out snatches of past triumphs (Conquistador was particularly fine), and showing us some of their latest, numbers from Exotic Birds and Fruit, all spiced by Chris Copping’s organ work and Gary Booker [sic]'s vocals.

But, from where I sat, the drums were thunderous – obscuring everyone else in the band. Even so, it was obvious that Procol’s music is still multi-layered, tightly-arranged and full of both musical and lyrical subtleties. Their performance helped to crystallize the sounds that had gone before, mellowing and rounding out the evening (and early morning) in splendid form.

(Thanks, Jill, for the typing)

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Setlist from the day after

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