Last night, I went to see my first Nylons concert in over 25 years. Although I’ve loved the band all those years, I’ve hadn’t had the opportunity to see them live in all that time. My time finally came, and it was well worth the wait.
This was a very different band from the first time I saw them, Micah Barnes is gone, Billy Newton-Davis is gone, unfortunately, Marc Connors, Paul Cooper and Arnold Robinson are no longer with us. Instead, Gavin Hope (baritone), Garth Mosbaugh (tenor & alto), and Tyrone Gabriel (baritone & bass) joined Claude Morrison (tenor), the only remaining original member, on the Milton stage.
I wasn’t expecting a concert that was as good as the clips I’d seen on YouTube and, indeed, good as the concert I saw in Hamilton almost 25 years ago. However, I am pleased to say that they exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. The new singers, if you can call them new after more than 20 years, were exceptional. Not only were they very talented singers, but comfortable performers as well.
In the old days of the Nylons, we would have expected more dancing, more doo-wop and less chatter. But this was a more subdued, intimate, and personal performance. What was in evidence this night, was pure vocals. In fact, it is safe to say that overall, this is a better group of singers than the “classic” nylons lineup. As the original members left the band, they seemed to be able to select from a larger group of singers encompassing a wider vocal range.
The lack of stand up performing, (see photo above) was likely due to two injuries in the band. Elder statesman, Claude, seemed to be nursing a lower body injury, while newcomer Tyrone recently had undisclosed health issues that lead to the postponement of a number of previous performances.
Still, those minor setbacks didn’t stop these men from delivering a performance that thrilled a sell-out Milton, Ontario crowd. They deftly mixed many old classics, Silhouettes, Up the Ladder to the Roof, Dream, among others with newer selections from their most recent album, Skin Tight. Personally, I’m a great fan of the late Marc Connors, I happen to think that he was the greatest singer that Canada has ever produced, but through most of the concert, I didn’t miss him. This is a testament to the talent of this lineup.
There are no individuals in The Nylons, as there might have been during the Micah Barnes, and Billy Newton-Davis days. This group harmonized and charmed the audience into a comfort that, combined with the intimate venue, many would agree is a fitting send off from one of Canada’s great artists.