December 7, 2013 - De Pul, Uden (NL)

The last time I witnessed a concert of the German prog rock band Sylvan, was in October 2012 during the iO Pages Festival (see review). At the time I didn't know that the excellent guitarist Jan Petersen would play for the last time with Sylvan. In the summer of 2013 he decided to leave the band for personal reasons. However, he took care of a good but temporary replacement, because Jonathan Beck was willing to perform two gigs in German and in the Netherlands. He had learned all the guitar skills from Petersen personally. Jonathan is only seventeen years old, so one of the questions was whether he was able to learn the music of Sylvan in only a few months! I also wondered how many Christmas tunes the band had practiced as this gig in Uden was announced as a Christmas concert.

Marco Glühmann
Almost half an hour later than scheduled the band entered the stage of a rather well-filled venue. To my surprise they started with a large part of the title track of Encounters (2000), my favourite Sylvan album. They opened greatly with the instrumental Overture followed by About To Leave, Your Source, Tremendously Different and Encounters. Lots of synthesizer solos could be enjoyed by Volker Söhl. At the same time guitarist Jonathan Beck showed that he had done his homework. He outstandingly succeeded in playing the parts that were originally done by Volker's twin brother Kay Söhl. According to the reactions of his fellow band members he did a very good job! The people in the audience must have thought the same and during the rest of the concert I didn't notice any mistakes. Though he was hardly taller than his guitar, he managed to master his instrument and let it speak properly! My compliments for this fine young musician who played some blues and prog metal parts as well.

Obviously lead singer Marco Glühmann was the host of this concert. He took all the time to kiss the girl in front of the stage who celebrated her birthday, he made jokes in between the songs and he asked the audience if they knew the performed songs. He didn't, so he was glad that the audience sang along because he sometimes forgot the lyrics, he said, and let someone else sing them. He told his fans that he, just like the other band
Jonathan Beck
members, felt nervous on stage. I guess this was another joke because they professionally performed without making any mistakes. They routinely played quite a number of classic Sylvan pieces like One Step Beyond, Follow Me and The Colours Changed. During the latter song people in the audience held up the fluorescent neon sticks which gave the venue a rather cosy sight!

Unfortunately I could only enjoy The Waters I Travelled from their latest album Sceneries (2012, see review) during the regular set, but this piece was so perfectly performed that I could hardly get mad at the musicians. After A Kind Of Eden, Marco Glühmann announced the final song of the evening. Sure, people felt disappointed that the show already had come to an end, but the final piece was a large part of their concept album Posthumous Silence (2006) and then the world suddenly looks brighter! During this excellent piece the seventeen-year old guitar hero could once more showcase his skills on his instrument.

Of course the band couldn't leave without doing an encore. The set list mentioned three titles for the first encore. The first one was No Way Out, a strong up-tempo piece from Encounters that belonged to my highlights of the entire gig. It was followed by Heal and This World Is Not For Me, another classic Sylvan track. Then they left the stage for the second time. I'd seen that Farewell To Old Friends was the final encore on the set list, but would they return again? Well, they certainly did playing that song. It started mellow with an acoustic guitar played by
Sebastian Harnack
Jonathan. Later on the rest of the band joined in and it became more powerful. It seemed as if a large part of the audience didn't know this song or hadn't heard it for a very long time because just before the break they already started to cheer and applause. After the final notes the band couldn't have imagined that they had to enter the stage for the third time! But they did since the audience still kept asking for more...

Sylvan couldn't resist their fans and hit the stage again, but all rehearsed pieces had already been performed. So Marco Glühmann suggested to play a song that had already been done. They choose one of the audience's favourites and I didn't care at all that they ended their excellent performance with One Step Beyond. This is a fine song and a perfect way to say goodbye to ones fans before leaving for Hong Kong! Unfortunately they didn't include any Christmas tunes on the set list. After the gig Glühmann explained that they rather perform their own music and moreover, they didn't have had much time to rehearse any Christmas songs. Anyway, even without Christmas carols their show was excellent and very enjoyable. My compliments to all the musicians, but especially to young Jonathan Beck!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Sylvan:

About To Leave
Your Source
Tremendously Different
Force Of Gravity
One Step Beyond
The Colours Changed
Follow Me
The Waters I Travelled
Episode 609
Pane Of Truth
A Kind Of Eden
Posthumous Silence
No Way Out
This World Is Not For Me
Farewell To Old Friends
One Step Beyond

Pictures Sylvan by Arthur Haggenburg

>>>NEW: Click here to view all pics on one page

Click on the picture to enlarge.


Line up Sylvan:

(left to right)
Jonathan Beck:
Volker Söhl:
Marco Glühmann:
lead vocals
Matthias Harder:
Sebastian Harnack:
bass guitar, bass pedals

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013