Sylvan & PBII

October 15, 2011 - De Pul, Uden (NL)

For both PBII and Sylvan this was a special evening. For the musicians of support-act PBII it was a try-out gig in order to prepare themselves for a concert in the UK. For Sylvan this performance was a welcome diversion from the recording sessions for their new and forthcoming double album Sceneries. This gig was also a fine opportunity to play the new material in front of an audience.


It was obvious that PBII would perform a lot of songs from their debut album Plastic Soup (see review). On that album Harry den Hartog still played the bass guitar, but recently he left the band. He was perfectly replaced by Alex van Elswijk. Together with the former Plackband members Michel van Wassem (lead and backing vocals), Ronald Brautigam (guitars, background vocals) and Tom van der Meulen (drums) they strongly performed a selection of songs from their debut. Loneliness contained a perfect guitar solo of Brautigam and the selection from the title track was in my opinion the highlight of this gig. The sound samples used for the album were included as well. Just before Book Of Changes the band introduced the new lead singer. At first it was a bit strange to hear
Alex (left), Tom (drums) and Ronald
Ruud Slakhorst doing the lead vocals for this piece, because I'm used to the vocals of Michel van Wassem on the original record. However, after a few minutes I noticed that he had adjusted the song a bit which made it sound a lot better.

I had already heard a demo version of the next track Never Old a couple of days earlier, so I was slightly familiar with this brand-new piece. This track marks the start of a new project named 1000Wishes that will be recorded with the Hofstad Jeugd Orkest, a symphony orchestra consisting of eighty young boys and girls. This project consists of a studio album and a fantasy thriller written by Ronald van der Pol. It's a heroic adventure about a little boy who has to fight against cancer. The benefits of the project go to the Dutch foundation KiKa which is an abbreviation of Kinderen Kankervrij (Children Free Of Cancer). KiKa's goal is to increase the recovery from children's cancer to 95 percent in 2025. For that purpose they raise funds for research. The first tune of this project sounded very strong; especially Ruud Slakhorst's voice fitted the music of Never Old perfectly. In a way his voice reminded me of Benardo Lanzetti (Mangala Vallis, ex-PFM) and Roger Chapman (Family, Streetwalkers). I enjoy this style of singing a lot. Unfortunately, PBII didn't return on stage for a final encore. I suppose there wasn't enough time because Sylvan had to perform next, but their presentation on stage was satisfying enough to call it a perfect performance. 


Marco Glühmann
The people in the audience were very pleased that Sylvan came to Uden once more. The five Germans started their concert with Artificial Paradise, one of their epic pieces. It sounded very strong and made clear that the band felt like giving a great performance. With a lot of passion the audience sang along the lyrics and for a short moment lead singer Marco Glühmann gave them a solo spot. During Colours the venue turned into a cosy place due to the fact that someone in the audience distributed a kind of light sticks to the other visitors and to the band members. Sylvan played quite a number of relaxed songs dominated by the piano of Volker Söhl, but also containing incredible guitar solos by Jan Petersen. This World Is Not For Me and One Step Beyond are songs that reflect the band's musical style the best possible way.  However, also many up-tempo pieces were performed as well like Follow Me and King Porn. The most interesting part of the regular set was the performance of a new piece of music meant to appear on their forthcoming new album. The Fountain Of Glow started as a rather mellow song with again an incredible guitar solo. Halfway through, the song becomes more aggressive but at the end it returns to the beginning with some delicate piano playing. This song proved that the new album is something to look forward to.

It was nice to see bassist Sebastian Harnack use bass pedals in a number of songs. He bought this instrument about a year and a half ago and he was noticeably glad that he could use it to provide some songs with more depth and pathos. In the previous years it seemed that Sylvan didn't like to perform material from their first two albums. However, with the reissue of their debut Deliverance, originally released in 1998, the older tracks got back in the spotlight. To my delight they played Safe
from this album and afterwards they announced the end of the regular set with Vapour Trail. This piece once more showed that the musicians felt happy to be on a stage after being so long in the studio lately. The audience was also aware of the fact that the band gave one of the best performances in the last three years. They shouted three times for an encore...

The last encore was certainly not planned, but the audience made so much noise that Sylvan couldn't refuse. Farewell To Old Friends was the second new piece for Sceneries that will probably be released at the end of 2011 or at the beginning of 2012. This song proved that the musicians are willing to take some musical risks concerning the new material. This track started as a sort of copy of Give A Little Bit (Supertramp), but changed into a Pink Floyd-like tune after the intro containing some reggae (!) influences as well. Then the song turned into a part with some aggressive guitar riffs and unexpected rhythms which made it enjoyable to listen to. This new piece certainly was a perfect ending of a satisfying concert evening.

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Sylvan:

Artificial Paradise
Force Of Gravity
Follow Me
The Fountain Of Glow
One Step Beyond
This World Is Not For Me
King Porn
Vapour Trail

So Easy
Pane Of Truth
Kind Of Eden
Posthumous Silence
Farewell To Old Friends

Pictures Sylvan by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Sylvan:

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

Setlist PBII:

Cradle To Cradle (Part One)
Plastic Soup
Changing Habbits
In The Arms Of A Gemini
Living By The Dice
Book Of Changes
Never Old

Pictures PBII by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up PBII:


guitar, backing
van Wassem:

lead and backing
Tom van
der Meulen:

van Elswijk:


lead vocals

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