Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Silver plate and crystal clear – like Carlsberg 'probably the best!'

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

“We sure do proudly present the immortal Procol Harum!”

Hans Otto Bisgaard looks chuffed to do some of his introduction in English and then at the end (before the band came on for their two-song encore) he really excelled himself: A Whiter Shade of Pale '... "but the crowd called out for more" ... and more he shall get – Procol Harum!'

In between was perfection ... the pinnacle of synergy between a band and an orchestra.

The day was a delight. The programme was well chosen. All the songs were wonderfully performed. The sound (stereo and 5.1) and vision are fantastic – the result of generous sound collection and video capture – there are rarely moments when you don’t see what you want to see. All the product of careful planning and rehearsal.

There are classical snippets to look out for - Beethoven's Vth (in Into the Flood) and Morning from Peer Gynt and the tubular bells from the 1812 Overture (both in Whaling Stories).

I have favourite moments, as I’ve explained before. The missing bits I’m now assimilating are just as good as the hour that has been more familiar since Christmas. Butterfly Boys and Simple Sister are crashingly good and Whaling Stories is just tremendous. 'Anvil Man' plays gong and cymbals at different times and must be pleased with his rather energetic day’s work, and (of course) being featured in the film. I also observed that the orchestra and choir were generous in their applause for the band.

This Ledreborg DVD should be a big success. This concert would merit wide exposure. We must hope it is a catalyst for further concerts, maybe somewhere nearer you and me.

The 1974 show is an interesting curio. Six songs in a sweaty ethnic diner – was the director trying to portray a Grand Hotel on a low budget?

Judging that '74 band is interesting – powerful and rocking certainly, but less of the precision of today (compare them with Union Chapel, as well as the orchestral gig at Ledreborg). Maybe less passion now, you say? No I don’t think so! Better musicianship today? Again no, or well possibly yes. Just different times ... you’ll notice exactly the same comparisons if you look at Cream’s farewell Albert Hall performance from the 60s alongside their wonderful reunion concert from a couple of years back.

But this extra treat is history rediscovered – déjà vu for many of us. First and foremost we are treated to BJ’s masterful drumming, as well as a troupe of young musicians giving it all at what must have been a nightmare venue – visually lacking and with an audience straight out of central casting. The sound quality is nothing like the orchestral part of the DVD – but we must be grateful to be seeing it.

So buy and enjoy. I see no end in sight ...


Other Procol Harum recordings | Procol Harum record reviews | This concert on audio CD | More of this concert on DVD | The same author's preview of this recording

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