Melodic prog of the highest order...
A Whiter Shade Of Pale. A moment of genius? Undoubtedly. A defining moment? Oh yes. A pension plan? Well it turned out that way. But as Gary Brooker says, it came as a shock. And a goal in the first minute isn’t always the best game plan. It can be backs against the wall from thereon in. And in some ways that’s the way it’s been for Procol Harem. An excellent band, but somehow never quite fulfilling their potential to win the premiership. A good, solid mid-table team some might say.
Of course, of the original line-up only Gary Booker (vocal and piano) and Matthew Fisher (Hammond organ) remain. But they’re ably supported by Geoff Whitehorn (guitar), Mark Brzezicki (drums) and Matt Pegg (bass). And while it is a job, its clear it’s a labour of love for all concerned.
So what we have here is the band performing live in Copenhagen in December 2001. And thoroughly excellent it is too.
The opener Bringing Home The Bacon sets the scene - melodic prog of the highest order. It’s a great sound - Brooker’s instantly recognisable vocals, Whitehorn’s guitar and Fisher’s organ - powerful, melodic and engaging. And the filming is good too.
We get a full 20 track concert and the test is always when you can say ‘wish I’d been there’. A couple of beers and it would be a night to remember. Can’t say Procol would ever have been on my ‘must see’ list but on the strength of this DVD they’re well worth the admission price.
There’s always been something about the Hammond organ sound that defines classic rock. And its here in buckets-full. Memorial Drive rocks like a bitch, Repent Walpurgis is quite beautiful, and after one and a half hours Conquistador and (of course) A Whiter Shade Of Pale round off the evening to perfection.
Extras. We get wonderful 5.1 DTS sound. And an excellent ‘Uninhibited’ - a documentary featuring the band in rehearsal including A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Morning Dew and Hey Joe, amongst others.
If you’re a Procol fan, this is a must have. And if you're not its well worth a look.
Review by Pete Whalley