It is a rare occasion to witness live musicians of Syren's calibre in such an intimate setting as Lincoln's small Tap & Spile pub, but an extraordinarily cold night at the end of January presented me with the opportunity to do so. An Anglo-American collaboration between singer/guitarist Erin Bennett, virtuoso bassist Amanda Smith-Skinner and drummer Jo Heeley, the trio formed in the USA mid-2006 and, following a plethora of live dates Stateside, decided to relocate to the UK last Summer where they have been touring ever since, including two prestigious support slots for legendary prog-rockers Hawkwind. Gradually rising to prominence within the alternative music scene through much positive press of both their live shows and stunning debut release 'Dehumanized', it is no surprise to find the Tap & Spile packed with eager spectators ready to check out first-hand what Syren have to offer. And the three talented ladies don't disappoint. Playing two sets of material predominantly drawn from 'Dehumanized', they also treat those present in the Tap to newer compositions and a couple of covers - Syren-ized versions of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' and The Rolling Stone's 'Paint It Black'. Amanda's virtuosic bass talents are already well established within the alternative scene through years of touring with previous bands Rockbitch and MT-TV, as is Jo's solid, tight drumming, although it is clear from expressions on people's faces that those witnessing their respective skills for the first time tonight are quite simply in awe of their musical abilities. Amanda's fretless bass widdlings are up there with the greats such as Jaco Pastorius and Rick Laird (it's kind of apposite that a photo of pioneering jazz/rock fusion guitarist John McLaughlin adorns the wall behind her), and sporadic use of an electric upright bass adds yet another dimension to her playing. Erin, although a far less experienced musician than her band mates, exudes confidence through her performance, unceasingly delivering powerful vocals that resonate around the Tap's small confines as she strums and picks her guitar with great skill. Collectively, for a three-piece, Syren have a massive sound that is both musically progressive in its fairly unique fusion of styles whilst pertaining to catchy, quality songwriting. Every track aired engenders loud cheers and applause as the band please established fans and, undoubtedly, make many new ones this evening. Having had the pleasure of recently reviewing their masterpiece of contemporary alt-rock that is 'Dehumanized', I am also pleased to report that Syren are one hell of a live band, surely destined for great success.
Friday 30th January 2009
Tap & Spile in Lincoln, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
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