So Cardiff’s The Reasoning join Breathing Space, Stolen Earth and Crimson Sky in the roll-call of bands that I’ve travelled considerable distances to see who are now no more. I have often likened being a fan of bands at this level to being an away supporter of a lower-division football club; there’s a camaraderie with fellow-fans, and you end up staying in unfashionable places like Crewe, Swansea or Mansfield.
The Reasoning were one of three bands that emerged following the implosion of the original incarnation of Karnataka, a band I had loved on record but never had the chance to see live, and featured their original lead singer Rachel Jones (as she was then). I travelled down from Cheshire to South Wales by train the day after a hurricane to see their very first gig at The Uplands Tavern in Swansea back in January 2007.
They were still finding their feet at the time, but they still made a strong impression with a melodic twin guitar hard rock sound and three lead vocalists, enabling them to do interesting things with harmonies. I later saw them play a couple of stunning gigs at The Limelight Club in Crewe,and at The Point in Cardiff, when they gave the impression that they were hungry and going places. Not only were they tight but there was also a passionate intensity to their music. At one point, when they managed to get support spots for artists like Fish in sizeable venues, they looked as though they had a chance of breaking through to the next level.
They went through a lot of changes over the following years, which might have cost them some of that early momentum. They had started out as a six-piece band with Rachel sharing lead vocals with guitarist Dylan Thompson and keyboard player Gareth Jones. There was a short-lived seven-piece lineup featuring former Fish keyboard player Tony Turrell and additional backing singer Maria Owen-Midlane. Then they took the form of a slimmed-down five-piece band with Rachel as the main vocalist and Tony Turrell handling the male vocals on the older material live.
Although all the different incarnations had their strengths and their supporters, for me nothing quite equalled the magic of the early days when Dylan, Gareth and original drummer Vinden Wylde were in the band, and the first two albums “Awakening” and “Dark Angel” remain favourites.
I find it impossible as an outsider to imagine just how hard the still-unsolved disappearance of guitarist Owain Roberts in 2012 hit the band. For a while there was considerable doubt as to whether they would continue. They eventually regrouped with new guitarist Keith Hawkins to record what would be their final album, “Adventures in Neverland”. Although they’d announced they were working on a follow-up, provisionally titled “Horrorscopic”, the only live activity in the past two years bar a couple of warm-up gigs were their appearance at the HRH Prog in 2013, and what turned out to be their final live appearance at last year’s Trinity charity event in Leamington Spa. The cancellation of a proposed tour last Autumn and the indefinite postponement of the album meant today’s announcement that the band were finally calling it a day shouldn’t really be a surprise.
While it can be disappointing as a fan to see a band you’ve followed call it a day, sometimes you do have to recognise when something has run its course. Nothing can take away their legacy or their recordings. Sometimes the spirit of a much-loved band lives on in new bands formed by former members. And sometimes the creative forces behind a band take off in exciting new directions.