Parzivals Eye & Sylvan

November 22, 2009
De Pul, Uden, The Netherlands

To promote their seventh studio album Force Of Gravity (see review), Sylvan from Germany arranged a short European tour including three gigs in The Netherlands. During the final gig, held at De Pul in Uden, Parzivals Eye was their support act and that was for me one of the main reasons to visit this concert. Bass player Chris Postl from RPWL established his own band lately and they recorded an impressive debut album. Maybe Fragments (see review) is one of this yearís musical highlights. I was very curious to see whether they could deliver the same high standard of musicianship live on stage.

For the album, Chris Postle had invited singers Alan Reed (Pallas) and Christina Booth (Magenta) plus guitarist Ian Bairnson (The Alan Parsons Project) to participate. The participation of these well-known musicians on Fragments certainly lifted the music to a higher level. Unfortunately, for this gig they were all absent, although I was told that Mr. Reed would show up on some of the other gigs during this tour. Afterwards Chris told me that Alan is able to learn new things very rapidly. Therefore, heís easy to cooperate with. According to Chris, it was difficult for Christina to join the band on this tour because her vocal lines are rather complex and she needed a number of rehearsals. Since there was no time left to do that properly, we had to watch the performance without her wonderful singing. This time Evi Melzer did Christinaís vocals and she did that the best way possible. She did a good job on the Graham Nash-cover Chicago, but still less than Christina did on the album. Eviís voice differs a lot from Christinaís voice, but Chris asked her anyway since they worked together in the past on the album Terminal Breath by Violet District. Chris did all the vocals of Alan Reed himself, but on Signs and Disguise his voice sounded less than Alanís voice on the album. I have to admit that Chrisís vocal performances didnít match those of Alan on the Fragments-album. Of course, in a recording studio, you can make it sound the best possible way but despite that, several songs took me to higher spheres. The only cover performed was Yours Is No Disgrace recorded by Yes in 1971. For Chris Postle, this song was one of the reasons to make progressive rock music in the first place and now it was a perfect way to honour his heroes. The way Chris played the bass guitar came pretty close to the original parts played by Chris Squire. Guitarist Uli Graner also deserves a big compliment for copying the difficult guitar parts of Steve Howe in a very proper way. Uli is a session musician and composer from Munich; he has a cum laude degree of the Berkeley College of Music in Boston. He proved to be a good substitute for Ian Bairnson, who played some fantastic guitar solos on Fragments. Wide World, the last track on the album, was also the last piece performed by Parzivals Eye. No encores this time, although Skylights stood on the set list as a possible option. However, I found the performance of Parzivals Eye well worth watching, even if it didnít reach the same high quality level of the album.

After a short break, the five Germans forming Sylvan entered the stage. They gave the most extensive show I ever saw of this band from Hamburg. Their two-hour show was mainly meant as a promotion for Face Of Gravity, their latest album. So most of the songs they performed were taken from that album. The band started with the title track followed by the heavy piece King Porn. The sound was okay right from the start and one could hear a band that has grown over the years into a perfect live act. New guitarist Jan Petersen sounded much better than the last time I saw him at the concert in Ittervoort in early 2009 (see concert review). His guitar solos were now a feast for my ears. Nowadays, his solos play a substantial role in the sound of the band. However, the most important part is without doubt the voice of lead singer Marco GlŁhmann. He mostly sings very emotional, especially in ballads when heís only accompanied by the fine piano playing of Volker SŲhl. Once Sylvan started as a band, they were very much inspired by the music Marillion made on their early albums. That musical style we can listen to on the albums Deliverance and Encounters, which I enjoyed a lot. Itís just a pity that Sylvan hardly ever plays the music from those early days on a live stage. They only play music released in the last couple of years. The band moved to a new musical direction that can be described best as a combination of nu-metal and progressive rock. The music on their latest releases often sound similar and even their performances contain - most of the time - the same kind of songs. This was certainly the case in Uden. It would have been great if they had included songs as No Way Out, Essence Of Life, Deliverance or Artificial Paradise. That would have delighted many people who supported the band from the start. However, it seemed that most of the people at De Pul didnít miss the old material at all; they all sang along with the recent material. Although I couldnít sing along with most of the new songs, that doesnít mean I didnít enjoy Sylvanís performance. Not at all. Without doubt, this band belongs to one of the best live acts from Germany.

After two encores, the show was over and the members of both bands hit the stage to thank and say goodbye to the Dutch audience. During these gigs, I noticed that both bands interact in a very
friendly way. Members of Sylvan served some drinks when Parzivals Eye performed and some musicians from Parzivals Eye delivered the members of Sylvan back to the stage on their backs for the final encore. This is the way it should be. Showing the audience that music is not only a serious pastime, but also a time for friendship and having fun together.

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Parzival's Eye:

Where Have Your Flowers Gone
Through Your Mind
Yours Is No Disgrace
Wide World

Pictures Parzival's Eye by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Parzival's Eye:

(left to right)
Uli Graner:
Yogi Lang:
Hannes Weigend:
Chris Postl:
bass guitars, lead and backing vocals
Evi Melzer:
lead and backing vocals

Setlist Sylvan:

Force Of Gravity
King Porn
Former Life
Human Apologies
One Step Beyond
Follow Me
Isle In Me
Pane Of Truth
Vapour Trail

When The leaves Fall Down
This World Is Not For Me
From The Silence
The Colors Changed

Pictures Sylvan by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Sylvan:

(left to right)
Jan Petersen:
guitars, backing vocals
Marco GlŁhmann:
lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Volker SŲhl:
Matthias Harder:
Sebastian Harnack:
bass guitar

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013