I have to admit that until a few years ago the only Marillion albums in my collection were Script for a Jester’s Tear , Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws. The group have seemed to have by-passed me for a number of years and I have only recently been re-acquainted with them since the release of Sound’s That Can’t Be Made in 2012 and couldn’t believe that they now have seventeen studio albums in their back catalogue, so quite a bit of catching up had to be done..
The band was formed in Aylesbury in 1979 and amazingly the current line-up has not changed since 1988, with Steve Hogarth (“h”) as lead vocals, Steve Rothery on guitar, Mark Kelly on keyboards, Pete Trewavas on bass and Ian Mosley on drums. With Steve Rothery being the only original member now left in the band.
It’s become quite a tradition on the Marillion calendar that the band play a handful of dates just before Christmas across Europe, and they have just finished their short Christmas Tour in the UK with a sold out London date at The Forum. However, if you did miss them this time around they will be back next year in April in Wolverhampton for their fan convention weekend that occurs every two years and are also confirmed to play the Ramblin’ Man Fair in Margate in July. The concert itself I suspected would be a very much laid back event to the normal ones that I have attended recently, with many of my friends saying ‘You’re going to see Marillion!…they’re a bit ‘proggy’ for you!!’ , well they may be correct, but I was quite looking forward to seeing Marillion play as I had not seen them live since Reading Rock festival back in 1983, where they were support to Black Sabbath…
Their set started at 7:30pm and opened up with Gazpacho from the 1995 album Afraid of Sunlight and continued with The Uninvited Guest, Power and No One Can. I thought that it was a nice touch that Steve then thanked Fish for some great lyrics and music before the band then played Warm Wet Circles and followed on into That time of the night ( the short straw). Next up was Woke Up,Trap the spark and a little strange for a Christmas tour, but still a great tune, Easter.. Sounds that can’t be made, Season End, Man of a thousand faces and the awesome King finished off the standard set.
During the whole performance Steve showed us that not only can he sing but also play numerous instruments including his famous cricket bat keyboard, the normal keyboard, maracas, and the electric guitar. The first encore made it a bit more of a Christmas event with the band playing Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ( The Christmas song) and then John Lennon’s Happy Christmas ( War is over). Half way through this song it started to snow! And certainly the front section of the audience I feel felt a little bit more Christmassy by being covered in snow and they finished the first encore with Slainte Mhath. The two hour long set finished off with a second encore comprising of The Release and Garden Party and this nicely rounded off a great evening’s entertainment.
I was a little surprised that they still played several songs from the Fish era rather than songs only from the Hogarth era, but very glad that they still do, and I have to say despite the lack of crowd surfers, mosh pits and walls of death that I am more used to seeing at gigs, I really did enjoy this show, with my favourite song of the night being Man of a Thousand Faces.
No one can
Warm wet circles
That time of the night ( the short straw)
Trap The Spark
Sounds that can’t be made
Man of a thousand faces
The Christmas song (Chestnuts roasting by an open fire…)
Happy Christmas -War Is Over ( John Lennon cover)