Crystal Palace, despite the immediate association with the London football team, were founded in Berlin back in the early 1990s. The only remaining founding member today is Yenz, then bassist. Their debut album ‘On the Edge of the World’ was released in 1995 and keyboard player Frank Köhler joined the band in 1998. In the beginning of 2000, Yenz took over vocal duties. More albums were released: ‘Demon in You’ (2001), ‘Psychedelic Sleep’ (2003), a best-of in 2005 and ‘Reset’ (2010). In 2011 line-up changes included Nils Conrad (guitar) and Frank Brennekam (drums) and they toured with luminaries such as RPWL
The 2013 album ‘The System of Events’ included guests such as Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Kalle Wallner and Yogi Lang (RPWL) and the same year Crystal Palace were signed by German label “Gentle Art of Music” (RPWL). In 2014 Frank Brennekam was replaced by Tom Ronney and in 2016 ‘Dawn Of Eternity’ was released.
Then came ‘Scattered Shards’ in Spring 2018 with Progressive Promotion, and they reached my attention (always was a late developer….) . Following the release of ‘Scattered Shards’, Crystal Palace toured Europe, including Winter’s End Festival in Wales. They also teamed up with Thomas Thielen (T) for a few joint shows including Parkvilla, Alphen Aan Den Rijn on the 9th of November 2019, where they were finally able to use the full potential of backdrop visuals designed by Ute and Peter Petersen. Good timing too, as the gig was videoed by Henry and Roel Strik for Background Magazine. Audio recordings on the night were by Wolfgang Schröder, and not without problems. But the combination of CD and DVD provides a fulsome show.
To the opening of ‘Scattered Shards’, Jens Uwe Strutz (bass, vocals) steps on stage follow by Nils Conrad (guitars), Frank Köhler (keyboards) and Tom Ronney (drums). It’s a slowburn of a track, and well executed live, with good sound quality on CD and DVD. ‘Inside Your Dreams’ follows, typical melodic passages, and nicely crafted thematic sections. Then comes ‘Logic of Fear’, a nice riff developing into one of those hypnotic grooves that has to reach the ultimately rewarding instrumental close. The lengthy ‘System Of Events’ similarly weaves through melodic change, uplifting and melancholic in turn, and they turn in a solid, powerful performance. In some ways they remind me of Eloy….
Whether ‘Breathe’, the sumptuous ‘Simply Irresistible Cruel Intentions’ or heavier ‘Sleepless’, the band are rightly rewarded at their close by rapturous applause by an entranced audience. There is plenty to enjoy in the musicality of this band who seem able to set up soundscapes at will, evidentially melodic yet at home with the complex and complicated song structure. Songs to wallow in, listening repeatedly to get the most out of them. And by the way, played extraordinarily live, something all to easy to forget with the audience paying rapt attention. ‘Sky Without Stars’ closes with the opportunity to be introduced to the talented band, leading into another crowd-pleaser ‘The Day that Doesn’t End’. The epic ‘Beautiful Nightmare’ is a closing encore highlight, a slow intensity building and unleashing a classic guitar release. A fitting close to a rewarding evening’s work (for the band) and pleasure (for attendee, listener and viewer).
It is worth mentioning that this is no richly supported release with some large mega-label backing. The end result is a true to life record of Crystal Palace’s ability to play live, committed to their art, and as dedicated as their loyal fan base – all captured on audio and video record. And note, no fancy equipment here, just clever use of technology available, clever editing and as watchable as some fancy DVD’s are these days. I gather this release has a limited availability. It is a good package to have.
Oh, and any record that has a dedication to my old CRS mucker Dave Kennedy and Missus for their hard work and support is worthy in my book! More power to your elbow Dave for being recognised by such a top band!
1. Scattered Shards 09:17
2. Inside Your Dreams 07:02
3. Logic of Fear 06:58
4. Breath 10:17
5. SICI 08:26 ( Simply Irresistible Cruel Intentions )
6. Sleepless 07:58
7. Sky Without Stars 05:55
8. The Day That Doesn’t End 04:59
9. Beautiful Nightmare 12:59
Konzert Parkvilla Alphen (NL) 76:00.
2. Scattered Shards
3. Inside Your Dreams
4. Logic Of Fear
5. System Of Events
9. Beautiful Nightmare
On Tour: Behind the Scenes 11:00.
Video: Inside The Box 03:35
Preview: New Album 2021 ‘Still There’
Jens Uwe Strutz (bass, vocals)
Frank Köhler (keys)
Nils Conrad (guitars)
Tom Ronney (drums)