Marillion + DeeExpus @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall – Thursday 13th September 2012


Review by Woody and photos by Rob Stanley

When I started writing for Midlands Rocks I decided to take the opportunity to go and see a few bands live that I wouldn’t have done before. I sort of have a bucket list of classic bands and when they hit the region I go and check them out. This has led to me seeing bands like UFO, Molly Hatchet and Nazareth, and now the leading light in British prog, Marillion. I’m not really a fan of the prog genre as a whole but Marillion are one of the bands that have caught my attention over the years so I was keen to see what they were like live.

Tonight’s support are DeeExpus and although I was at the Civic in plenty of time to catch them I did miss the first song due to the longest queue I’ve ever seen here for the bar! Obviously I could have ditched the queue and gone without, but I’d got a thirst on so it was tough titty for the band. I have a very limited knowledge of the prog genre so if I was asked if they were any good the simple answer is I really don’t know. They played to a slowly filling Civic Hall and whilst attendance was very healthy, it was the quietest I’ve ever seen the place.

DeeExpus got some polite respectful applause from those to the front so I think they were doing something right. However for me, one mid-tempo drone song just blended into the next mid-tempo drone song and I’m really sorry to say I was bored shitless. As my mind wandered, I actually thought the Midlands Rocks boss would kill me as I pondered the fact that I’d definitely come to the wrong gig, and we at Midlands Rocks pride ourselves on sending people to review bands that if they aren’t a fan of them they are at least a fan of the genre. I suspect a huge slap to the back of the head is imminent and a stern no more prog for Woody talking too (Ed: You got it!)

So were Marillion going to alter my thoughts on the genre as they took to the stage to roaring applause? Well, to be honest, no. Not that they played badly, in fact they are technically superior to many of the musicians I rave about on a daily basis. The problem lies totally in the songs; they just bore the crap out of me. The first song which actually sounded like five different ones was met be very loud applause and if it hadn’t been for this response I wouldn’t have realised it was all one song! I suppose the fact that bar their final encore, ‘Sugar Mice’, I didn’t recognise a single song didn’t help me to appreciate tonight’s show.

Vocalist Steve Hogarth held the audience in the palm of his hand for the whole of their set and they loved every minute of it. Prog fans don’t tend to get fired up or dance, that’s not what this atmospheric, multi layered, fantastical genre is about. They are more polite, always vocally appreciative and I’ve never seen a bunch of fans so passionate and loyal in their support of a band. Considering it wasn’t a full house tonight, the stomping and clapping at the encore was longer and louder than I’ve witnessed at some breathing-space-only gigs at the Civic. I think Hogarth summed up well the Marillion fans and their responses in the statement he made from the stage: “We are lucky. Some bands come on stage to complete apathy and disinterest; some come on stage to excitement; some come on stage to absolute adulation. We come on to affection”.

I’ve always been a fan of Hogarth’s vocals he has a warmth and tone that I find soothing and relaxing and in the live arena his voice is very impressive. As a performer he is very eccentric, never standing still with a very expressive performance style, which at times was mesmerising if somewhat bizarre at times to watch. It’s easy to see why this band are so well loved as they strive to put on a memorable show with plenty of dry ice, heart attack-inducing firework bangs, and a full-on light show.

Marillion crafted a fan pleasing set of atmospheric songs and technically impressive musicianship. I won’t lie to you and say that they blew me away because if truth be told, the songs just didn’t resonate with me. Judging by the excited talk leaving the venue, I think I’m totally on my own in this thinking as many seemed to be lustily looking forward to the bands next appearance in the Midlands.

The set list consisted of the following, although I could be wrong please send complaints to the usually sources and the Midlands Rocks editorial team will beat me severely with a stick on your behalf. (Ed: Again Woody, you got that right!)

Set List:

Splintering Heart, Gaza, This Town, The Rakes Progress, 100 Nights, Youre Gone, The Other Half, Sounds That Can’t Be Made, Neverland, A Voice From The Past, Power, Fantastic Place, Real Tears For Sale, The Sky Above The Rain, The Great Escape, A Few Words For The Dead, Sugar Mice

And you can see Rob’s photos from the show here:


  1. “I suppose the fact that bar their final encore, ‘Sugar Mice’, I didn’t recognise a single song didn’t help me to appreciate tonight’s show”

    Wrong reviewer, wrong gig?

    You are working hard (and doing a great job) at making this site professional…comments such as “they just bore the crap out of me” should have been kept for the reviewers personal blog and not included here

    • Do you mean i should have rephrased that comment? or i should have lied?

      Is that what professional’s do omit the truth?

      As an unpaid ‘writer’ i do continually try to improve and although the editorial staff spend more time putting their head in their hands at my poor grasp of english i do try to match my collegues who find professional writing a lot easier than i do.

      Obviously if i’m going to put my words out there publicly i have to take the criticism that will inevitably follow. But i’m not sure why i shouldn’t have included that line? Is a review not the ‘opinion’ of the person writing, even if that opinion isn’t positive?

      • I’m surprised my brief comments should have elicited such a defensive response but am happy to clarify – that is, presumably, why a comments function is enabled

        I was merely suggesting that some sympathetic editing could have resulted in the tone of the review being more in keeping with much of the rest of the site – I’m well aware the review was your own personal opinion; it would be highly unusual were you to give the opinion of the person next to you

        As for you being an “unpaid” writer I think that much is evident but did you not attend the gig for free? Was that not a waste of a reviewer allocation since MR has a number of prog aficionados? Are comments such as “tough titty for the band”, “I was bored shitless” and “they just bore the crap out of me” really what MR is striving for?

        You managed to review a Marillion gig without even a passing mention of Steve Rothery – to put this in terms you will appreciate this is like reviewing Magnum without naming Tony Clarkin – utterly pointless

        You state that “I’ve always been a fan of Hogarth’s vocals” and yet the only song you recognised was ‘Sugar Mice’. Such a statement sounds hollow and insincere and exposes your lack of preparation for your free night out. When did Hogarth impress you then I wonder? Certainly not it would appear with ‘Neverland’ or ‘The Great Escape’, two of the core staples of any Marillion show

        In summary I restate my initial comment that this review as presented would have been more suited to your personal Woody’s Rock Reviews site but needed further editing to be up to the high standards that are set by MR


        • As you would probably guess Mr Council i was one of the very few MR Team members against having the comment section active. HAHAHA!

          Yes i had a press pass for the gig but that makes it far from a free night out there is other costs involved in attending a gig. You are right though i should have defered the review to someone who had a greater knowledge of the Prog genre. Also i don’t think a Free press pass should mean a guarenteed postive review should be given, bands have off nights and the beauty of live music is it’s never always perfect.

          I’m not sure an Editor removing parts of my review to make it seem more positive is the way forward though. I have learnt a lesson here though and i’ll be more cuatious about what bands i choose to cover for MR. Looking at the parts you have highlighted from my review, i fear my style of writing regardless of wether it’s positive or negative would be your taste anyway.

          As one of the orignal members of the MR team, i can say yes we are striving for better and to equal or be better than professional magazine and websites. The site will continue to improve and hopefully the next review you read here will have you thinking to yourself ‘thats more like it’.

    • As a life-long Marillion fan and MR tog at the gig I have to agree with Woody.. whilst I cannot fault any of the musicians ability from a technical POV I too found the whole Marillion experience lacking of emotion, uninspired and pretty dam boring!

  2. Just in case there’s any confusion, only part of Splintering Heart was played, used an intro tape before the set proper opened with Gaza.I wouldn’t quite go as far as the Woodster, but even as a hardcore Prog fan, this version of Marillion doesn’t do it for me either, although I would travel many a mile to watch Steve Rothery in action. Best British prog guitarist since Steve Hackett, if you ask me.

Comments are closed.