Procol Harum

the Pale 

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All Bright Jewels and Glittering Sands

Procol Harum Live at Ledreborg (and I Studiet) on DVD
Previewed by Charlie Allison for BtP

Yes this is a pre-view rather than a review. We have all had the audio of the Ledreborg concert, either on CD or download, some were fortunate to have the DR2 TV broadcast on Christmas morning, and of course many of us were there in Denmark (though actually I was only there for the Saturday concert and thus the recorded gig is technically new to me as well).

This collage of screenshots is a taster for what we all likely to see and hear when the DVD comes out. I am particularly looking forward to hearing the 5:1 multi-speaker sound, having been content to date with pretty glorious stereo.

The big moments to look out for in the concert will be many. The playing is immaculate – great musicianship from the band, choir and orchestra – and worthy rehearsal seems to have paid off with a rich dividend.

Many of the songs have been heard with orchestra before – Homburg and AWSoP are sylvan and pastoral, Simple Sister, Into the Flood and Conquistador loud and rocking. But personally I most enjoyed Symphathy for the Hard of Hearing, a Brooker song about WWII which builds brilliantly to an exhilarating climax – from some 5.15 mins into the song it is as good as it gets – and at the end Geoff is Jimi Hendrix, and Mark looks stunned and satisfied with his own propulsive contribution (aided by rumbling bass drum, tymps and cymbal-crashes from the orchestral percussion section). I also look forward to seeing Whaling Stories, which sounds sensational and will no doubt look wonderful too.

And what a bonus there will be – six songs from Procol's Danish TV special in 1974. This appears as an odd location – all the trappings of a 70s Indian restaurant with flock wallpaper and patrons seated at tables – but the band smokes ... at least that’s what one can anticipate from the short clips we have seen already. Gary hammers away and sings lustily, every inch a Braveheart character in his tartan waistcoat. The dynamic duo of Mick Grabham and Alan Cartwright look like a couple of likely lads who enjoy a pint with their music but (strangely) Chris Copping has so far not been seen – no doubt will be on the full version! But it is the appearance of BJ Wilson which gives you goosebumps – even a brief flash of Bringing Home the Bacon is long enough to savour his skill, two powerful hands moving with innate rhythm and creativity, using the cowbell to propel along the song in trademark fashion. I have assembled a few images here too – again apologies, no Chris Copping on view yet! [Chris was short-changed by the original camera-crew, sadly]

The release will also gives us another chance to read liner notes from Professor RC. Will they repeat the CD ones, or be different? We’ll have to wait and see. How blessed we are, with new written archive from both Roland and Henry Scott-Irvine this year – the latter in the Salvo CD packages.

Anyway, just a taster, a letter of anticipation, an entreaty to buy perhaps?

The one benefit of my wife’s recent appendicitis is that we will not now be going to New Zealand in May, so I will be here when the DVD comes through the letterbox from Amazon. I will most surely update these comments for you soon after! (with apologies to those in the US who are not getting the DVD until later in the month).

Good times. The sun shines. Trees are in blossom. Lambs gambol in the fields. The Procol world is at peace (OK, except for that little matter in the House of Lords) but then the release of this DVD is what’s important in the coming days!

Other Procol Harum recordings | Procol Harum record reviews | This concert on audio CD | More of this concert on DVD | Review of this album

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