The Second Coming of Marillion…
A decade ago Marillion’s regional gig was at the much less salubrious surroundings of JB’s in Dudley and the fact they can now sell out Symphony Hall is a measure of their current renaissance, both critically and commercially. For years they were very much a well-kept secret but a Top 5 album with F.E.A.R., mainstream media acclaim and a career defining show at the Royal Albert Hall has very much changed the public perception of a band now fast approaching their 40th anniversary.
Marillion’s music has always demanded attention from the listener and so the setting was perfect as the audience remained largely seated, reverential in the appreciation of the thought-provoking and multi-layered soundscapes that define much of their recent material. An unassuming frontman, Steve Hogarth has now been at the helm for thirty years and his voice remains impeccable and even if his between song announcements often appear fidgety and awkward this is all part of his endearing charm.
This being Marillion, of course, there was never any suggestion the show would resemble anything like a “Greatest Hits” set and, aside from playing much of F.E.A.R., they dig deep into the catalogue for deeper cuts such as the jarring ‘Quartz’ (from Anoraknophobia), coming of age ballad ‘The Party’ (Holidays In Eden) and emotionally charged ‘Real Tears for Sale’ (Happiness Is The Road). With an expansive production the lights and video worked perfectly alongside the music to ensure the complete audio-visual sensory experience and it’s in venues such as Symphony Hall that Marillion’s music can truly be appreciated at its finest.
With Hogarth wryly observing much of their latest work is “doom and gloom”, ‘The Leavers’ nevertheless climaxes with the joyous ‘One Tonight’ and its euphoric refrain “we come together”, which brings a lengthy standing ovation, before easing into the stirring closing segment that takes in ‘Mad’, ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ and ‘The Great Escape’. After the intensity of the preceding two hours, the encore is all about letting off steam with band and audience alike partying their way through ‘Easter’ before we are taken right back to the very beginning with ‘Garden Party’ and ‘Market Square Heroes’. Written off time and time again, Marillion are a long way from being done yet.
El Dorado: I. Long-Shadowed Sun
El Dorado: II. The Gold
El Dorado: III. Demolished Lives
El Dorado: IV. F E A R
El Dorado: V. The Grandchildren of Apes
Living in F E A R
Real Tears for Sale
The Leavers: I. Wake Up in Music
The Leavers: II. The Remainers
The Leavers: III. Vapour Trails in the Sky
The Leavers: IV. The Jumble of Days
The Leavers: V. One Tonight
Afraid of Sunlight
The Great Escape
Market Square Heroes
Review by Dean Pedley, Images by Rich Ward.