Marillion returned to Symphony Hall with a show that celebrated thirty years since Steve Hogarth joined the band and for good measure they were joined by some Friends from the Orchestra by way of a sextet comprising two violins, viola, cello, flute and French Horn. The tour also brings down the curtain on the F.E.A.R. album cycle as the band prepare to spend much of 2020 working on the follow up to the 2016 release that saw them back in the Top 5 of the album charts amidst much praise and approval from fans and critics alike.
With a set list that is always fluctuating Marillion are in the enviable position of being a vintage artist where there is no one song the audience demands or expects that they include every single night. Afforded the freedom to choose from the vast back catalogue this was a much different performance from the one here back in April of last year. The orchestra are positioned centre stage and the arrangements are such that they are not simply used in a supporting role – their contribution is very much at the forefront, most notably on ‘Estonia’, ‘Beyond You’ and ‘The Space…’, three of the bands more emotionally draining songs that combine exquisite musicianship with heart-wrenching lyrics.
Steve Hogarth was here just a few months ago, giving a standout performance as a featured vocalist on Trevor Horn’s 80’s themed show. Once again, he is sublime, extraordinary and gloriously eccentric – sitting front of stage for the opening of ‘Gaza’ and delivered the first verses whilst staring imposingly at the front row. Unsurprisingly the set also drew on some of the bands most politically charged statements, from ‘The New Kings’ all the way back to 1989’s ‘Seasons End’, a song which has taken on greater resonance in 2019 and receives arguably the loudest response of the night, especially when Steve Rothery launched into his solo.
At the start of the century it was hard to imagine Marillion in a venue like this, let alone coming back here year after year. They may be in the autumn of their career but whatever lies ahead they can be secure in the knowledge that their audience will be right there alongside them.
The New Kings: I. Fuck Everyone and Run
The New Kings: II. Russia’s Locked Doors
The New Kings: III. A Scary Sky
The New Kings: IV. Why Is Nothing Ever True?
The Sky Above the Rain
The Great Escape
This Strange Engine