They will step inside the 20 Monroe Live “time machine” and sonically travel back to October 1973, when Genesis released their definitive prog rock album, “Selling England by the Pound.”
During their sonic travels, the audience will receive Nad Sylvan as their exquisite, effervescent and enchanting musical tour guide. Dressed lavishly in dark ruffled shirts, dark velvety capes and cloaks, slim riding pants, and tall black boots, Sylvan, a “vampirate,” will magically perform “Pound” in its entirety alongside legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, keyboardist Roger King, bassist Jonas Reingold, saxophonist/flautist Rob Townsend and drummer Craig Blundell.
“I’ve done more than 500 shows with Steve now, and this is my seventh year with him. But I felt that this tour has been perhaps the most successful tour because people love ‘Selling England by the Pound.’ We go out and do the whole album without any words in between songs,” said Sylvan, a U.S.-born Swedish prog rock singer-songwriter and musician.
“We just play it like you play the record, and I take on these characters, and I do it in my own way. I’m not mimicking Gabriel at all, I do sound a bit similar to him sometimes because of my register. Everyone knows I’m a massive Genesis nut. I always have been, that’s why I got the gig.”
Sylvan, Hackett and the band are currently embarking on a 27-date North American “Genesis Revisited” tour through Oct. 20 and performing “Pound” as well as highlights from Hackett’s popular 1979 album, “Spectral Mornings,” and his latest release, “At the Edge of Light.”
The band previously performed a series of “Genesis Revisited” tour dates in 18 countries in seven weeks and will head back to Europe and the U.S. as well as Australia and New Zealand next year. Their next Michigan stop will be March 4 at The Fillmore Detroit.
Sylvan started touring with Hackett and his band in March 2013 in support of Hackett’s 2012 release, “Genesis Revisited II.” Hackett learned about Sylvan after he released a Genesis-inspired album with Bonamici called “Unifaun” in 2008 and a mutual friend suggested they work together.
“That’s why I did the ‘Unifaun’ album, that was just prestige of Genesis just for the hell of it, and that was long before I got to know Steve. I think that’s partly why I have the gig because he knew that guy sounds authentic, he sounds like a Genesis singer,” said Sylvan, who first saw Hackett perform with Genesis during the 1977 “Wind & Wuthering” tour in Stockholm.
“That’s how he felt about my singing, even though I have the ability to sing more soulful and go different ways with my vocals with different vibratos and what have you. But when I sing Genesis, I just sing it the way I believe I’ve heard them, but I put my own stamp on it.”
Becoming Nad Sylvan, Meeting Steve Hackett
Sylvan has put his own stamp on the international prog rock community for more than 40 years. By 1974, he started playing with several prog rock bands in Stockholm and sought inspiration from Genesis, Gentle Giant, Yes and Camel, but later delved into ‘70s soft rock and disco. Nearly a decade later, Sylvan had a Swedish disco hit in 1983 called “Midnatt,” or “Midnight.”
Throughout the ‘80s, Sylvan performed with several Swedish acts and shared the stage with Lionel Ritchie and Robbie Nevil. From 1989 to 1996, he holed himself up in a home studio recording new material and tried to identify his real sound and musical persona.
Sylvan soon emerged as the flamboyant and romantic singer-songwriter inspired by the artistic and androgynous personas of Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, he released a series of solo prog rock projects online and teamed up with Bonamici to record “Unifaun” (a reference taken from Genesis’ “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight”). He also formed Agents of Mercy with Swedish prog rock singer-songwriter Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings).
In 2012, Sylvan received a call from Hackett and recorded vocals for three tracks on Hackett’s 2012 “Genesis Revisited II” album. Now, Sylvan has become an integral part of Hackett’s “Genesis Revisited” touring band and credits Hackett with helping him break through when he was 53.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot, I feel like I’ve become better because of the tour. I’ve become more confident. The first year was a struggle for me because I had no touring experience whatsoever. I’d basically been locked up in my studio for years and years. I was amazed I was given that chance so late in life,” said Sylvan, who’s also appeared on several of Steve Hackett’s live albums since 2013.
“Now, looking back, I’m surprised that I can still grow as a singer and a performer when I’m 60. I can still develop. You don’t finish developing just because you get a little bit older. As long as you practice your craft, you can actually grow.”
Releasing the ‘Vampirate’ Album Trilogy
Sylvan continues to grow musically and artistically since releasing a trilogy of highly-regarded and critically-acclaimed prog rock albums over four years – “Courting the Widow” (2015), “The Bride Said No” (2017) and “The Regal Bastard” (2019). All three albums are thematically linked to an evil, confused and lovesick vampirate (a hybrid of a vampire and pirate that doubles as Sylvan’s artistic persona) and quartermaster as well as his son and daughter-in-law.
“When I recorded ‘Courting the Widow’ and released that, I had no intention of making a trilogy. That idea came about when I was working with ‘The Bride Said No’ and was looking at artwork for the album, and I also think when I came up with the title, it’s like a reversed story. It should be a bride that turns into a widow,” said Sylvan, who released “The Regal Bastard” in July.
“Some of my fans really are into the lyrics, and they’re still a bit puzzled by what I mean, but with some stuff I leave it sort of free for people to interpret it in the way they like. The widow turned out to be a widow because the vampire killed his own son because his son was married to the widow. He wanted that woman, and then after a while she agrees to marry him, but at the altar she rejects him. That’s payback, and in one lyric, I realized this has got to be a trilogy.”
As the final installment in the vampirate trilogy, “The Regal Bastard,” features romantic seafaring themes related to ocean waters, ships, islands and moonlit waves. Sylvan encourages listeners to enter a parallel universe while they hear the defeated vampirate and quartermaster elegantly recount his tales of romantic rejection and personalized recovery on “I Am The Sea,” “Oahu,” “Whoa (Always Been Without You)” and “Leave Me on These Waters.”
“I was raised by the sea. My family, we had a summer home on the archipelago of Gothenburg, Sweden, and we had a panorama view of the sea from my house. It was like a one minute walk down to the beach and the little islands and islets and everything and a lighthouse,” said Sylvan, who was born in California to an American father and Swedish mother. “That’s one of my biggest dreams in the world is to become a pirate and just go out on the sea with that kind of ship. You feel the scent of tar and ropes.”
While traveling along this mystical, emotional journey, listeners stop at the 12-minute title track. As a gorgeous step back in time, “The Regal Bastard” opens with a beautiful combination of a piano and harpsicord giving listeners an intimate look into the inner workings of the vampirate’s mind and past. It’s a major spellbinding destination in the vampirate’s final journey to self-actualization.
“The lyrics on ‘The Regal Bastard,’ the title track, are very much about me and my mother, the relationship. Now, people are starting to pick up on the second track, ‘Oahu,” Sylvan said.
“‘The Regal Bastard’ has that same melody because initially those two songs were linked together, but I felt that if you make a proper prog album you could divide those two songs so you have the first bit earlier on the album and then you come back to that again. That makes a proper prog album for me since I also go a bit diverse on this album I go toward R&B and soul and what have you, but it’s still proggy.”
Hackett, Reingold and Townsend also lend their guitar, bass and horn prowess to Sylvan’s latest release, which was inspired by a multitude of genres, including ‘80s Brit and synth pop from Tears for Fears. To tie all three albums together, Sylvan revisits some of the melodies and synth parts from “Carry Me Home” (Courting the Widow) to “Leave Me on These Waters” and “Honey, I’m Home” (The Regal Bastard).
With a new album out and current “Genesis Revisited” tour underway with Hackett, Sylvan looks forward to performing tracks from “Pound,” especially “Cinema Show” and “More Fool Me.” It’s a marvelous way to travel back in time and experience a true masterpiece with the ideal musical tour guide.
“I’d be amazed if they didn’t go nuts for this show because it’s a very good show and a very good band performing it,” Sylvan said.