“And then there were five”, said Rachel Cohen at the start of The Reasoning’s gig at The Fleece and Firkin in Bristol. The departure of guitarist, vocalist and founder member Dylan Thompson on the eve of the tour came as something as a shock. The band’s decision to rehearse and tour as a five-piece rather than postpone the tour was a brave one, which left quite a few people wondering quite how they’d reproduce much of their complex multi-layered material live. So I set out to for Bristol, a new venue for me, not quite knowing what to expect from them.
As soon as they took the stage and launched into the prog-metal of “Dark Angel”, it was clear that they’d pulled it off. Far from having obvious holes in the sound, the slimmed-down incarnation of The Reasoning simply gives each of the musicians more space. Less was indeed more. As they always have been, the band were both tight and had really high energy level.
Naturally they played a much rearranged setlist, dropping many of the songs that relied on Dylan’s lead vocals in favour of songs with Rachel singing lead. So we saw the return of songs like “Within Cold Glass” from their first album, and the first UK appearance of the Dream Theater-esque 14 from their most recent album “Adverse Camber”. Keyboardist Tony Turrell, who’s previously only sung backing vocals, took the male lead vocal on “Awakening” and “A Musing Dream”, while Matt Cohen, who’d previously not been let near a microphone, added some backing vocals. Owain Roberts did a superb job as sole guitarist, nailing the solos he hadn’t previously played. Tony Turrell’s keys weren’t always that prominent in the mix, but his solo spot, with sections of Fish’s “Plague of Ghosts” and bits of assorted Marillion tunes went down extremely well with a certain section of the crowd.
As one of the band said, when their backs are against the wall, they come out fighting. The slimmed-down Reasoning still rock, and it will be interesting to hear where go next, especially when they return to the studio.