Procol Harum thrills with its return to the U.S. after a seven-year absence

Procol Harum, with Gary Brooker on voice and keyboards, Geoff Einhorn on guitar, Geoff Dunn on drums, Matt Pegg on bass and Josh Phillips on Hammond organ, at The Tarrytown Music Hall on June 10, 2010. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

A huge blast from the past shook The Tarrytown Music Hall to its foundations last night when Procol Harum took the stage of the 1885 show palace for 2 1/2 hours.

This is the band’s first visit to the United States since 2003, when it hit the road — making a stop in New York at the late, lamented Bottom Line club — in support of its last studio album, The Well’s On Fire.

The Tarrytown Music Hall.

For those who remember PH from its early days — the band became an international phenomenon with the 1967 hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale” — singer-pianist Gary Brooker is the only onstage member left from those days. But Brooker, who co-writes the band’s songs with lyricist Keith Reid, Procol’s nonperforming member, is the voice of the band. As long as he’s singing, there’s no doubt that it’s Procol Harum.

The crowd files in.

Brooker’s voice has gotten a bit gravelly and more nuanced over the years, but the 65-year-old showed last night that he’s still got his vocal chops. He and the rest of the quintet ripped through an energetic set, covering the whole range of the band’s 43-year history.

Brooker couldn’t help but point out that anyone in the audience who had money invested with Lehmann Brothers would see the prescience of one of the band’s newest songs, “Wall Street Blues,” from The Well’s On Fire, seemed

The band, and the audience, are a little less energetic than they once were. But the music stands the test of time. There was no dancing in the aisles and the crowd — comprising people of all ages, including a few pre-teens — was pretty respectful. But the performance brought fans to their feet numerous times throughout the evening and ended with a standing ovation when the band wrapped the set.

Procol Harum is on tour in the U.S. now, opening for Jethro Tull, a band whose heyday coincided with PH. To a die-hard Procol Harum fan, there’s something wrong with Tull as the headliner. But, luckily, Procol took time off from its opening duties to book some shows of its own while it’s touring with Tull. Procol’s playing tomorrow night, with Renaissance opening, at the Showroom at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City tomorrow (June 12, 2010) and next Wednesday (June 16, 2010) at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. (The Longwood show is sold out, but tickets are likely available from resellers.)

More photos after the jump.

Gary Brooker belts it out.

Gary Brooker works it with Geoff Whitehorn.

Procol Harum takes a bow at The Tarrytown Music Hall.


One response to “Procol Harum thrills with its return to the U.S. after a seven-year absence

  1. The Professor

    I was there and this little review is spot on…as was the band, firing on all cylinders with a set that represented every one of their albums save for one.
    Having seen Procol many times ‘back in the day’ I can say with authority that the ensemble has never sounded better. While the lineup has always varied, even from the very beginning, it’s worth noting that both guitarist Geoff Whitehorn (who by the way was born to play in this band) and bassist Matt Pegg (son of the legendary Dave from Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull) have both been with Procol for nearly 20 years and even the now permanent Hammond man, Josh Phillips, has a history of filling in that role going back 17 years. So this Procol DOES have a pedigree. And make no mistake, it IS Procol Harum, through and through.
    In any case, a fantastic night at the Music Hall…it’s great to have Procol Harum back to these shores, sounding tighter than ever. I’m still skipping the light fandango 48 hours after the event…

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