Tag Archives: Gary Brooker

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.

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Procol Harum to headline two US shows

One foot in the past with an eye to the future: A recent incarnation of Procol Harum.

Call it nostalgia, because it certainly taps something deep in those formative years, but Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? finds it very hard to resist Procol Harum.

The latest in the ever-changing PH lineup is touring this year, with eight U.S. bookings so far, mostly opening for Jethro Tull. Now I liked Tull back in the day, but I always thought Procol Harum was the more seriously musical, less-gimmicky band. (After all, one of the key members of PH for many years was lyricist Keith Reid, who wrote the lyrics for every PH original, but never sang or played an instrument!) And, of course, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” PH’s most memorable hit, is one of the most-played rock songs in history.

Vintage Procol Harum

We can debate that question forever, and I can see both sides. But my heart is with Gary Brooker (the distinctive singer and pianist, and sole original member) and crew.

I haven’t seen them since their shows at NYC’s late, lamented Bottom Line in 2003. And while the band has been touring on a regular but limited basis — more often on the Continent and in the UK than in the US, I was very tempted to book tickets for the show at Jones Beach on June 11. But for some reason, I held off.

Tarrytown Music Hall

Now I’m glad I hesitated. An email landed in my in box a few days ago announcing that Procol Harum is taking a couple of days off from opening for Tull for some headlining gigs of its own.

PH is booked for headlining dates at two venues — both on the East Coast — so far. The first is at 8 pm on June 10 at the jewelbox Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY, where tickets range from $49-$75, and the other is at 7:30 pm on June 16 at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., an outdoor show that features opening band Renaissance, with ticket prices from $39-$65.

A full list of Procol Harum gigs for 2010, including the Jethro Tull tour dates, can be found here, on the band’s fan site.