Liverpool sound and Vision Rating * * * *
They are responsible for one of the most endearing and enduring songs of all time, the sense that without them adding the classic A Whiter Shade of Pale to the musical history books, that it would still be played 50 years later as memories of the Summer of Love captivate the mind is more than astonishing. It is alongside the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, of Woodstock, of the emergence of Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airship, The Small Faces, of images of humanity stepping forth on an alien surface, the Mamas and the Papas and the flourish birth of Progressive Rock that defines the period of 67-69 as one of great highs daunting hopes.
Fifty years on, the sound of Procal Harum resonates and whilst arguably there were some in the audience at the Liverpool Philharmonic who were visibly anxious to hear the band’s most endearing number, some to the point where perhaps understandably on edge all evening. The majority of the free spirits, the interested young, the fans of a time that can never be truly recaptured and the lost souls of a decade that promised so much but then turned inexplicably into the 1980s and all its morals disappearing, for those the night was more than just a song, it was about a movement that framed their ideals.
Gary Brooker may be the only original member of Procal Harum still touring under the name but the voice, the style has not changed, there are moments in Time when a musician can come along and instantly people get them, there is no wavering around in the waiting for that one incredible sound. In Mr. Brooker, unquestionably that sound was there and for those who took in the night at the Philharmonic Hall, it was one that either carried them across the ensuing 50 years with a smile or it was the first true moment when they sat down in front of the band and were lost in the melee of curiosity and dare it be said, wistful love.
With a brand new album out, that sense of circling time was evident and as tracks from Novum played out alongside the classic repartee, songs such as Last Chance Motel, Image of the Beast, Neighbour, Sunday Morning, Businessman were greeted with wonderful respect and reflected the polish of tracks such as Pandora’s Box, Grand Hotel, Conquistador and of course the much loved Whiter Shade of Pale.
A very beautiful evening provided by Procal Harum, a sense of timeless elegance hanging in the ether and the moment of 50 years making incredible music, never once leaving the thoughts of those who made their way to the Philharmonic Hall; an evening of heavenly delight.
Ian D. Hall