It was back in December 1989 that Marillion last played at Hanley’s Victoria Hall and at the time they were still very much a band in transition, tentatively finding their way as they moved from one era into the next. More than three decades later and in the autumn of their career, they are enjoying a resurgence in popularity that saw latest studio album An Hour Before It’s Dark debut at #2, their highest peak since 1987’s Clutching at Straws.
In great prog rock tradition the first hour was a presentation of the new album in its entirety. Steve Rothery’s guitar may have been inaudible for much of the opening ‘Be Hard on Yourself’ but Steve Hogarth remarked that he knew tonight was going to be special and he was not wrong. Inspired by both the pandemic and the climate crisis, AHBID is never dragged down by its subject matter and moves through a range of light and shade. Messrs Kelly, Rothery, Mosley and Trewavas create a cinematic musical landscape that moves to a dramatic and grandiose conclusion with ‘Care’; Hogarth wringing every last drop of emotion from what was a simply stunning performance.
After a brief pause for band and audience alike to enjoy the moment, they move into the rarely played ‘Somewhere Else’ before we are in the more familiar territory of ‘Mad’, ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ and ‘The Great Escape’, songs that have been staples of Marillion’s live shows since the 90’s. Since they last played here at Victoria Hall Marillion have been dismissed, written off, ignored and at the same time released some incredible music across a diverse range of albums. They ended on a joyous sing-a-long of ‘Sugar Mice’, leaving everyone in no doubt that after nights like this there is still much more to look forward to from this most unique of bands.
Be Hard On Yourself (I) The Tear in the Big Picture
Be Hard On Yourself (II) Lust for Luxury
Be Hard On Yourself (III) You Can Learn
Reprogram the Gene (I) Invincible
Reprogram the Gene (II) Trouble-Free Life
Reprogram the Gene (III) A Cure for Us?
Only a Kiss
The Crow and the Nightingale
Sierra Leone (I) Chance in a Million
Sierra Leone (II) The White Sand
Sierra Leone (III) The Diamond
Sierra Leone (IV) The Blue Warm Air
Sierra Leone (V) More Than Treasure
Care (I) Maintenance Drugs
Care (II) An Hour Before It’s Dark
Care (III) Every Cell
Care (IV) Angels on Earth
Afraid of Sunlight
The Great Escape
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?