Tue 15 Nov 05
Breaking Down Walls (taped intro)
Some Time, Some Way/Reach Outro
Cathedral of Love
City of Dreams
encore: Golden Age
Steve Nardelli: vocals, acoustic guitar ("21st Century")
Chris Squire: bass, backing vocals
Paul Stacey: guitars, backing vocals
Gerard Johnson: keys, backing vocals
Jeremy Stacey: drums
with Gary Husband: triggered vocal samples
I have never seen Chris Squire so happy.
The new version of The Syn debuted at the new version of The Marquee on Tuesday night (15 Nov) and it was a great show. There were all round strong performances with material that worked live.
The new Marquee Club seems to be completely the wrong shape for a music venue. It was hard to estimate numbers, but an audience of maybe 200 filled the space around the stage, many of whom had travelled the length of the country. Upstairs, a fairly sizable guest list included representatives from Yes fan groups in France, Sweden and the Netherlands.
On first were Umbrello's other band, Alien Sushi, a four-piece of young indie rockers, apparently playing their first gig. They were nervous and lacked gusto, nor did the material stand out. Was this "music for thinkers"? Then again, I can't say I paid them much attention and they had a few enthusiastic supporters in the audience.
The Syn took the stage to the sound of "Breaking Down Walls" as a taped intro, then launching into "Some Time, Some Way"/"Reach Outro". What was immediately apparent was Jeremy Stacey's powerful drum work, driving home a greater presence in the music than on the album, Syndestructible. The band had been concerned that they were under-rehearsed, but there were perhaps only a couple of moments in the whole evening when that showed. Likewise, guitarist Paul Stacey's technical problems earlier on didn't mar the music.
Next was the single, "Cathedral of Love". With a somewhat different
sound to the rest of the album, I thought it was the one piece that made
the transition to live performance less well. It still contained one of
the highlights of the evening, one of those transcendent moments, with
the switch to the middle section ("Spring and
summer..."). Steve Nardelli seemed a bit nervous earlier on, something he denied after the show, but if he had been, it was forgivable given he had not performed in front of the audience for about 40 years.
With minimal rehearsal time, the decision was taken to use sampled backing vocals in a few places. These were 'played' off-stage by a hastily recruited Gary Husband, who had been the planned drummer with the band for the More Drama Tour. However, Paul and keyboardist Gerard Johnson also sang parts, as of course did Chris Squire.
Squire, of course the main attraction for many, was grinning from ear to ear. I have never seen him so happy. He clearly loves this line up and loves playing the new material. His bass work was as good as I've seen it and he was in good voice too.
The band departed from the album next, playing new song "Silent Revolution". (Well, not entirely new: it was started during album sessions, but not completed.) The song offered both Stacey brothers opportunities to shine. It was not dissimilar in style to what's on the album, as nor was "21st Century" (again considered for the album) which was to follow later. Although perhaps at times on the quiet side, Nardelli had gained the audience's support and he and Chris joked as they introduced a short medley of oldies, rousing renditions of "Grounded" and "Flowerman", again driven along by Jeremy's drumming.
"21st Century" saw Nardelli strap on an acoustic guitar, beginning the
song solo before the band came in. The song catalogues the failing of mankind,
exhorting us to do better. Then into my favourite piece of the evening,
"City of Dreams". All round great performances, although I would have liked
to have had Gerard's keyboard playing higher in the mix. The closing number
was also great. The instrumental section in the middle of "The Promise",
beginning with arpeggios from Gerard, through
some very neat playing by Chris and into a strong solo from Paul, was another stand-out moment.
The band returned with the only other piece they knew how to play(!), the only remaining track from the album, "Golden Age". A more straight-ahead piece, it's my least favourite on Syndestructible, but made for good encore material.
Martyn Adelman, former Syn drummer and now photographer, was on hand to document the event, and many fan photos are appearing on websites already. An after-show party was much enjoyed, with stunning views of Leicester Square from the fifth floor of the building.
Henry Potts, 16 Nov 05
Originally posted to alt.music.yes and rec.music.progressive.
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