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Jethro Tull with Procol Harum, Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA June 8, 2010

Procol Harem at Wolf Trap
25 July 2010

A band I’ve never seen, in a venue I’ve been to before. In some situations, that might be a setup for an uncertain evening, but when its Procol Harum at Wolf Trap, the possibilities are much more favorable.

The sound in the storied venue was fantastic, letting you hear Gary Brooker and company in every detail. Procol Harum was opening for Jethro Tull on this night, so the limited time slot didn’t allow for all of their classics to be played. But for every “Shine On Brightly” that didn’t get played, there were lesser-known gems like “Piggy Pig Pig,” “The Devil Came From Kansas,” “As Strong As Samson” and others, alongside their best-known songs, sent me searching back through my record collection.

Procol Harem at Wolf Trap

While some band members have come and gone through the years, it is still the voice and presence of Gary Brooker that still leads the charge. All these years on, Brooker still sings like he means it, and Brooker’s current band is there at every step. Even the band’s two “new” songs avoided the classic rock band curse of being ho-hum, and sat nicely alongside the band’s classics.

The highest accolade I can give the band is that they sounded like Procol Harum, which is exactly what I came to hear. The show was well worth the seven-hour drive, and even the wasp that stung me multiple times during “Conquistador.” Good rock and roll always trumps the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Procol Harem at Wolf Trap

Jethro Tull still plays an interesting game with their American fans, leaving most of their best-known songs (i.e. radio hits) off the set list, while playing straight to their diehard fans. That being said, the band was in fine form, and much more focused than when I saw them ten years ago. A great double bill, although I must admit a bias in wishing that the bill had been reversed.


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