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Procol Harum - Live (DVD) CD (album) cover

LIVE (DVD)

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.10 | 10 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rock and roll with reserve

In America, we have our own version of Procol Harum. We called this mix of Canadians and Americans 'The Band' and they played a similar style of stoic and understated rock and roll for many years. Of course it's not a perfect comparison and like most probably too convenient. But the parallels are enough that I thought of The Last Waltz many times watching this show, and the fact that The Band never really had the chance to offer such a legitimate overview this late in their career, due to disharmony and loss of key musicians. I realize they toured into the 90s, but without Robertson it wasn't very convincing to me. Procol of course offers more "prog" vibe and a more English feel than the rootsy Americana of The Band's classic years but in spirit and in sound the comparison struck me as valid while I watched this lovely show. Watching Brooker sing some of the prettier songs instantly made me think of Rick Danko's mournful rendition of "It Makes No Difference."

From the start it is clear that Procol is all business. Brooker and Fisher seem to have little love for one another and at times Fisher is more serene than Rick Wright, almost as if he's just playing by himself in his practice space. While the band is more than able to rock convincing this is not their strength, this is not the Rolling Stones. When they move into that blues-rock mode I lose a bit of interest with what I see as occasional clichés and pedestrian turf. Thankfully there is as much or more of the truly wonderful stuff like "Grand Hotel" and "A Salty Dog" which showcase the amazing voice of Brooker, the fantastic dual keyboard sound he and Fisher generate, and the instrumental prowess. It is in the lightest of moments when the true talents shine through, the keyboards, drums, bass, and guitar all listening to each other and offering shadings to support each other in turn. These are sensitive and intuitive players who are build the tracks up together, as a team. In combination with Brooker's seasoned, warm, lovely voice these more plaintive tracks can bring a tear to your eye still. While the original musicians may be reaching the final stretch of their live playing days, here Brooker's voice remains intact and as beautiful as it ever was. Not only are the show ending singles "Conquistador" and "Whiter Shade of Pale" passable or acceptable, they sound fantastic! The lighting and filming are thankfully reserved as well, providing great views and a lovely stage without resorting to silly modern day concert "show" distractions. While I have some minor quibbles with sound levels (I wish the keys were louder and the vocals a bit less) there is no question that this DVD offers a wonderful chance to become acquainted with this veteran band. It may not have enough pizzazz to satisfy hard rock or tech prog fans but for those who appreciate the more traditional attributes of music it is a feast. Recommended.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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