YES, who are Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood, recently released their new studio album The Quest on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music The album was produced by Steve Howe. “Much of the music was written in late 2019 with the rest in 2020. We commissioned several orchestrations to augment and enhance the overall sound of these fresh new recordings, hoping that our emphasis on melody, coupled with some expansive instrumental solo breaks, keeps up the momentum for our listeners,” said Steve.
Today the band are please to reveal a video for the track ‘Future Memories’, watch it now here:
‘The Quest’ also sees its physical release in North America, as of today.
Pick up your copy here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest The album has also been hitting charts worldwide, find a selection of them below: #7 German Album Charts
#20 UK Album Charts
#1 UK Rock Album Charts
#5 Swiss Album Charts
#8 Japanese International Weekly Charts
#23 French Physical Album Charts
#37 Belgian National Album Charts
#54 Dutch Album Charts
#60 Italian Album Charts
The Quest was recorded across the globe, The sessions took place in the UK with Steve Howe, Geoff Downes & Jon Davison, while Alan White & Billy Sherwood got together in the studio in the US. “Billy Sherwood and myself did all the rhythm sections, bass and drum, in America,” says Alan White, “down in Los Angeles at Uncle Studios, where he works a lot. It helps when you’ve got a good place to work,” Alan laughs, “and Billy’s really good on the recording desk, so we got things down relatively quickly. I spent quite a while studying the music before I went down to LA so I was prepared.” The Quest is also now available for pre-order on various formats, including a Limited Deluxe Box-Set that features a Gatefold 180g 2LP on exclusive coloured vinyl, 2CD+Blu-ray Digipak (featuring 5.1 mix & backing tracks), 36-page perfect bound booklet, enamel pin badge, 60x90cm poster, slipmat & hand-numbered certificate of authenticity, all housed in a rigid lift-off box.
Containing 11 songs, 8 on the main CD with 3 extra tracks on a bonus CD, The Quest will also be available as Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook, 2CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP+2CD & as Digital Album. Order now here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest
The Quest – 2CD Digipak tracklisting: CD1: 01. The Ice Bridge 7.01 02. Dare To Know 6.00 03. Minus The Man 5.35 04. Leave Well Alone 8.06 05. The Western Edge 4.26 06. Future Memories 5.08 07. Music To My Ears 4.41 08. A Living Island 6.52
CD2: 01. Sister Sleeping Soul 4.51 02. Mystery Tour 3.33 03. Damaged World 5.20
Formats are:Limited Edition Deluxe 2LP & 2CD plus Blu-ray Box-setLimited Edition 2CD & Blu-ray ArtbookGatefold 2LP & 2CD plus LP-booklet2CD DigipakDigital Album Cover artwork designed and created by the band’s long term collaborator Roger Dean.
YES Story For half a century YES have been the definitive band of the progressive music genre, the band by which all others are judged. Their ground-breaking albums of the 70s set the standard for the genre and influenced countless others who followed in their wake.
The current line-up of YES was completed in 2015 when Billy Sherwood replaced founder member Chris Squire, at Squire’s insistence, as he bravely fought a losing battle with leukaemia. Since then, YES have concentrated on touring with their Album Series tours, each featuring a classic YES album in its entirety. During this period YES have released three live albums Topographic Drama – Live Across America (2017), Yes Live 50 (2019) and The Royal Affair Tour: Live in Las Vegas (2020).
The music of YES has endured over the years and has been handed down through generations of music lovers.
Vinegar Joe were a band who were considered to be distinctly second division. Wannabe headliners, always gave a good show but somehow were unable to quite get up the ladder enough to get top billing status. This may in part have been due to their record company, Island, having their own ideas and agenda for the band. They could see a bright future for one of the two singers in the group, a certain smooth voiced Batley born Robert Palmer, yes, he of the dancing girls in the Addicted toLove video of the late 1980’s!
For, in him, they could see big dollar signs if were they able to manouvre him into a solo contract. Better still, they could make the band that he was part of, his backing band. Well, that may have been the plan however, Robert did not want to ditch his fellow singer Elaine Bookbinder, or as you may know her, Elkie Brooks. He wanted to stay with the band and see it through, very noble but management and record company did their own thing and caused the band to break up after an American tour and insisted that they came back to the UK to record their final album, ‘Six StarGeneral’.
This new box set from those clever folks at Esoteric tells the whole sorry story from inception to implosion and gathers all three Vinegar Joe albums together, along with various single edits, to give a complete overview of a band who offered much and did their utmost to make it, but, as is often the way, interference and manipulation from management and other parties screwed them over. Although, as this set testifies, Vinegar Joe had talent and the potential to make it big but, somehow never really got the breaks they were due.
Vinegar Joe evolved out of an earlier outfit, called Dada, that was more of a jazz/blues type band that boasted ten members. This band recorded an album in 1969 that is certainly due a reissue. When Dada ended, they decided to strip the sound down to a more conventional rock band format and sound, becoming VinegarJoe. Their eponymous debut album was released in 1972 and introduces the world to the powerful vocals of Elk (Elkie Brooks) and the soulful voice of Robert Palmer .
Occasionally they sing together but they, generally, separately, Elk certainly has a big voice and she can wail with the best of them, very often in a high-pitched warble (as shown on Early MorningMonday, which sounds remarkable). In addition to the main band, the album also featured various guests like Keef Hartley and Conrad Isadore, amongst others. This does mean there is a degree of inconsistency in the music, but it doesn’t really matter when it sounds as good as this.
Their second album, ‘Rock N’ Roll Gypsies’, is equally as hard hitting and has a Hipgnosis designed sleeve, reproduced here in a gatefold cover. The music also had changed, more a blues stomper type sound, like that of Canned Heat or Creedence Clearwater Revival. The album also features more slide guitar and Hammond Organ sounds, you can tell it would make a good live sound but was never actually recorded for any live releases sadly. Certainly, the change of style worked well for the band and the album was a powerful rock and roll release.
The third Album, ‘Six Star General’ (1973), was more of the same but with a slightly different line up, still with Elk and Palmer on vocals. Sadly, this was to be their last outing as Palmer was offered a solo contract by Island and the chance to record in Nassau in the Bahamas. This album contains the fabulous Black Smoke Rising from The Calumet.
This set really captures the essence of the band and offers a chance to rediscover this lost band of the 1970’s again. Personally, I like the debut album most out of the three as it best shows what the band were all about. It also has some strong tracks and that amazing voice of Elk, which is simply stunning. Highly recommended indeed, this set has much to offer anyone who loves good music.
As it is nearly autumn again and the nights start to draw in, we will shortly be seeing a whole slew of new releases lined up for the Christmas rollout in order to woo and tempt the faithful and the unwary into parting with their hard earned readies. In to this scenario Esoteric have dusted off the ever popular 1975 album ‘Time Honoured Ghosts’ from Barclay James Harvest, which has been remastered from a newly located mix of the album that had been lost for many years.
The album ushered in a golden era for the Barclays and was very successful, as were it follow ups ‘Gone to Earth’ and ‘Octoberon’ that were reissued a few years ago in expanded versions, again by Esoteric and they have done a lovely job of this fine album here on this reissue.
This version of ‘Time Honoured Ghosts’ differs very little from the version issued by Universal in 2003, well to these ears at least. What is different here is that there is a second disc which offers a 5.1 surround sound mix along with promotional videos shot in 1975 covering the tracks Jonathon, Titles , Moongirl, One Night and Beyond The Grave, although, to be fair, these videos are all shot in the studio with minimal effects other than seeing the band playing them. They are very much of their time we’re talking pre Bohemian Rhapsody here, music videos were very much in their infancy!
The album also has a new essay from Keith and Monica Damone of the Barclay James Harvest website that tells the story behind this new version. Finally, there is a lush fold out poster of the album cover that one could frame if you so wanted and it’s simply gorgeous. The Album espoused the gentle and pastoral brand of progressive rock that BJH operated in and, whilst the album is known to most folks, it is in essence a good distillation of the classic BJH sound.
The album has, as a bonus track, a US version of Child of the Universe that was slated for a release but never was. I’ve always liked this album since the time that Titles was Radio One’s single of the week as its lyrics were made up of Beatles song titles but, in reality, they told the story of the breakdown in the relationship between Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Even though it got heavy promotion at the time of release, it still failed to catch the public’s imagination and so failed to chart, a great pity as it was clever and had a really classy sound. The public are like that though, pearls before swines et al.
In some respects it is a little hard to see who this set is aimed at as any BJH fans should already have this in one guise or another. I guess the 5.1 up-sound mix may appeal to some, although I don’t have a 5.1 system so I haven’t heard it and, as such, can’t comment on how it sounds and what it does for the music. I do like the poster though and it’s good to have the videos, dated as they may be. Esoteric always do these remasters very well, diligently and with care and sympathy, showing great respect for the album which, in this case, it heartily deserved and is worthy of such care and affection.
The album has some classic material on it. Songs like Titles, Jonathon, Beyond theGrave and Song For You are well known staples in the BJH canon and still form parts of their shows, even now, over 40 years on from when this album was released. It is often hard to appreciate the impact this album had when originally released, the album was recorded in San Francisco and produced by Elliot Maser (apart from Child Of The Universe which was recorded at Advision in London and produced by Rodger Bain). Therecord was followed by a UK and European Tour which led to greater success in Germany for the band.
The album stands up as a real classic of the 1970’s and was a chart hit in the UK and still sounds marvellous today, being one of the finer moments of Barclay JamesHarvest’s career. The version of Child of the Universe on this release is significantly different to the one that graced Everyone is Everyone Else album in 1974.
So, if you like this album and fancy a newly remastered version and DVD with surround sound mix, you could do a lot worse that getting this. A great album, now even better than before? You decide…
Amarok is back with a new album! Michał and Marta Wojtas are joined by their old friends – Kornel Popławski and Konrad Zieliński. The result of this collaboration is the album ‘Hero’ – a spiritual sequel to the 2017 ‘Hunt’.
Much like the aforementioned ‘Hunt’, the upcoming album presents a fusion of musical styles known and loved by fans and critics alike. Here the sounds of progressive rock folk and ambient mix together, complemented by a wonderful and subtle guitar virtuosity. The soundscape feels exotic, thanks to the use of uncommon instruments such as violin, theremin, wind gong, djembe, harmonium, flute, and rainsticks.
The pieces have a strong lyrical layer, with their vocals referencing the ongoing digitalization of our life and the unsure position of a human in the future world. There are also beautiful instrumental fragments reminiscent of film scores similar in style to the depictions from the War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Hero is a story of a protagonist, fighting for survival, going up against reality and themselves. It’s about everyone courageously facing the unknown. The lyrics based on this idea, also touch on the current pandemic and the state of the world.
The upcoming album ‘Hero’ is a collection of innovative, fresh, and spatial compositions with just as good lyrical parts, that inquires into our current questions about the future. We recommend spending a while to relax, reflect and enter the world of this unique music. The climate of each and every piece mesmerizes the first time you hear it and brings you back again and again.
Amarok is a music project started in 1999 by a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist – Michał Wojtas, inspired by the music of Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd. Previously they’ve worked together with artists such as Colin Bass, (Camel) and Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul).
Their newest album ‘Hero’ is the second part of the musical trilogy started by the ‘Hunt’ in 2017. This time Michał Wojtas and Marta Wojtas will be joined by Kornel Popławski (bass, synths, violin) and Konrad Zieliński (drums). You can expect complex arrangements encompassing progressive rock, folk and ambient. All that created using a wide variety of exotic instruments, making up the mystical atmosphere characteristic of Amarok’s works.
‘The Quest’ is the first new Yes music in seven years. During that time much has happened with the death of founder member and bassist extraordinaire Chris Squire. Chris wanted the band to continue without him and had readied a replacement in Billy Sherwood. Sherwood was already known to Yes fans as he had been involved with the ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Live at the House of Blues’ albums from the early 2000’s.
After the somewhat disappointing ‘Heaven and Earth’ album from 2014, this album needed to be a significant improvement over that somewhat lacking release and I can say that, whilst it may not be the absolute triumph that was needed, it is at least a far better and more convincing album all round. When you consider that the album was created across various continents and times, all whilst in the midst of the Covid pandemic, I think you will agree that this is a very worthy effort by the band to move onwards once again.
The release comprises of the main album and a second disc with 3 bonus tracks, although with the main CD running at 47 minutes, quite why they needed a second disc is a bit of a mystery as the 3 bonus track could have all fit on the main disc, quite odd really. Another big difference here is that Steve Howe has produced the whole album. I have to say that he has done a good job too, giving plenty of space for each instrument and the vocals to be clearly separated and heard, giving a good clear sound throughout.
The album opens with a very strong start in The Ice Bridge, which bears a passing resemblance to Fanfare For The Common Man, especially in the keyboards of GeoffDownes. Yet, even so, this is a good strong opening track that sets out the stall for what is to follow. The song has a definite Yes groove to it, offering a first glimpse of Billy’s take on Chris Squires‘ legendary bass playing and he gets it bang to rights. Jon Davison is on top form, still sounding like Anderson-lite but adding his own touch in the vocals. The song also has a great ascending riff from Steve Howe that really works well, adding much pace and drive to proceedings. This song also allows for some good interaction between Steve’s guitar and the Geoff’s keyboards, all very ably backed by the rhythm section of Billy Sherwood and Alan White, it’s all very fine indeed but, can it continue? is the question here.
Dare to Know follows and opens with a sprightly guitar line from Steve Howe and some good bass that underpins the music most satisfyingly. The song is quite mellow and laid back really but, even so, still manages to impress and, once again, Jon Davison’s voice sounds fabulous and really suits the sound, which is very full and impressive.
I will say that I think this album is a grower and familiarity will reveal its treasures as you listen to it, so be prepared to invest some time with it to really get the most out of it. It’s not a bona fide classic but it certainly has enough moments of brilliance to make it worthy of hearing. Yes have been around for fifty two years now, so they have little to prove these days and really we should just be glad that they still are around and still making music in the twilight of their years.
Minus the Man has a certain something to it, especially in the chorus and the lovely and eloquent guitar line that weaves its way through the song so gracefully. The track is very pleasing and sets you up well for the epic Leave Well Alone that follows. This one has touches of Asia and also has some delicate acoustic and steel guitars from Steve Howe. The song is in three parts which all work well together and, as the longest track on the album, it really does impress. As it gives room for some stretching out, I imagine this would be a good live track for the band when they tour next year.
The Western Edge is the next track and this has a broad sound palette to it with more of Howe’s guitar lines adding great sound touches to proceedings. The pace of is brisk and rather urgent in places and it benefits from that energy, as well as the synths from Geoff that are littered throughout this song. It is the shortest on the main album and it does not overstay its welcome at all. Future Memories is a gentler song driven by Steve’s acoustic guitar and interlaced with his electric guitar lines as well. It is also graced by a very fine vocal from Jon, who I have to say really sings well on this album, he has grown into his role in the band and, whilst he is clearly influenced by Jon Anderson, his own unique voice has emerged, as is clearly shown on Music to My Ears, the penultimate track on the main album.
The final main album track is the Caribbean inspired A Living Island, inspired by Jon enduring lockdown in Barbados for five months, yes, some folks suffer for their art don’t they ? The song is graceful and moves from a Caribbean lilt to a more conventional ecological tour de force again, there are lots of Steve Howe’s delicate mandolin and guitar on this track.
This track closes the main album but I’ll do a short summary of disc two with the three extra songs. Sister Sleeping Soul is another Howe driven track with gentle guitar tones and a good vocal from Jon. Mystery Tour is a tribute, musically and vocally, to the Beatles and gives the chance to cram as many Beatle references into one song as they can, it’s still an interesting song though and has some merit to it i feel. It is also good to hear Steve playing such fluid guitar lines and tones and has a lovely guitar break from Steve along with great dynamics. This shorter track is very worthy of hearing as it has much happening throughout. Damaged World is another good track again with an environmental bent to the lyrics but the groove is strong and, musically, it is a good song. It is not as good or strong as the songs on the main album but, even so, it is always good to have Yes music in whatever form it may come.
This album set has caused lots of different views and opinions amongst fans both old and new but, in conclusion, I would say that, as an album, this is fine if you place it in its context and bear in mind how it was compiled. On that basis it is a worthy addition to the Yes canon and should be judged as such. There is much to enjoy here if you open your ears to this particular version of the band.
Multi-platinum selling English supergroup ASIA are to release a 10CD boxset The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 through BMG Records on 26th November 2021. There will also be a digital album featuring a selection of 24 tracks taken from the full boxset, out on the same day.
ASIA: Geoff Downes (The Buggles, YES, keyboards), Steve Howe (YES, guitars), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, drums) and John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, bass/vocals), took the world by storm with their eponymous debut album, globally the biggest-selling album of 1982, and the single Heat Of The Moment.
The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 celebrates the huge appeal of the concert tours that followed ASIA’s first two albums in 1982 and 1983. The success continued following ASIA’s 25th anniversary reunion in 2006 and three more highly acclaimed albums. The slipcase boxset features 5 x 2CD concerts from 1982 (Buffalo, NY, USA), 1983 (Worcester, MA, USA), 2007 (São Paulo, Brazil), 2008 (Tokyo, Japan) and 2010 (London, UK).
“This historical collection represents some of our finest and most defining live moments,” says Geoff Downes, “from the very first ASIA tour in 1982 and the Alpha tour the following year through three of our many ‘Reunion’ shows. It was such a privilege to take ASIA’s music to these different continents and feel the warmth and support from fans all over the world. We hope this brings back great memories and inspires others to appreciate the music of ASIA”.
The sets for ASIA’s original 1980s tours featured only the band’s new music. For the ‘Reunion’ years tours, ASIA included heritage tracks from each of the band member’s pre-ASIA groups. The 2007 and 2008 concerts also feature the Wetton/Howe composition Ride Easy, a song omitted from the debut album that was issued as the B-side of Heat Of The Moment, and included in their later live repertoire as a thank you to their fans for their support over a quarter of a century.
This the first time these recordings have been made officially available by ASIA and they are presented together in a superb collector’s edition boxset with original artwork by Roger Dean, who created all of ASIA’s album artwork.
ASIA, The Official Live Bootlegs, Volume 1 is available as a 10CD boxset and a Digital Album on 26th November 2021 through BMG Records.
ASIA was a true ‘supergroup’ pooling the talents of Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton, who had already amassed tens of millions of record sales with their collective bands of the 70s.
Leaving behind their progressive roots, ASIA embraced the commercial FM rock sound that dominated US airwaves and took that, and the new MTV video channel, by storm. The single Heat Of The Moment was a world-wide monster smash and their eponymous 1982 debut album spent an incredible 9 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart as ASIA became the biggest selling album of the year and world tour dates sold out.
A second album, Alpha, was released in 1983. The four original members reconvened in 2006 for a world tour, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that incredible success, and the album Phoenix followed.
While the members were still heavily involved in other projects they came together again to record Omega in 2010 and XXX in 2012, both albums were acclaimed by their faithful fans and supported by more world tours.
Steve Howe stepped back from ASIA to concentrate on his work with YES and was absent for 2014’s Gravitas. Following this tour came the news of John Wetton’s treatment for cancer, a fight he sadly lost in 2017.
The legendary progressive rock group, Marillion, have come up with a unique way to solve the problem of not being able to buy Pandemic insurance ahead of their UK tour.
The band has already invested more than £150,000 on preparations for the 10-date “The Light at The End Of The Tunnel” road trip, but risks losing it all if just one of the band is forced to isolate with Covid.
The tour would be cancelled, but the group would have to honour payments for lighting, trucks, tour buses and crew. This would be on top of not receiving any money from any remaining gigs that had not been played.
“The band has not played live since the Pandemic began, and to lose such a huge amount of money would be absolutely devastating,” explained their manager, Lucy Jordache. “We tried to get the tour insured, but it has proved impossible. No companies want to take the risk.”
Lucy and the band have come up with a revolutionary way of keeping the show on the road. The first to use crowdfunding back in 1997, Marillion, will now appeal to their massive worldwide fanbase to join forces and become their insurers for the upcoming tour.
Lucy explained: “We’re calling it Lightsavers as the tour is called “The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’. We’re asking our fans to pledge money that will be held in escrow and if it all goes Covid free it will be returned to them at the end of the tour. But if we do have to cancel, then their money will be used to pay the bands unavoidable expenses.”
However, all would not be lost for the loyal fans. Regardless of whether their money is eventually returned or not, every person who donates will receive “money can’t buy” items in return.
Depending on the amount donated, this could be anything from seeing your name in a tour programme, or a free download of a gig, to a group chat or even a personal meeting with the band via Zoom.
They will also be entered for a raffle with prizes such as a handwritten lyric of their choice, a full set of guitar plectrums, and personal shout-outs at concerts.
Marillion frontman, Steve Hogarth, believes fans will be only too happy to help them out.
“We are blessed with having the most amazing fans. They are incredibly supportive and loyal. We are desperate to play in front of those wonderful crowds again and I know they are so excited to see us,” explained Steve.
“They have come to our rescue before. Way back in 1997, they helped raise $60,000 to underwrite our entire US tour. It was the first noteworthy instance of online crowdfunding – a world first in fact. We also used the same method to underwrite some of our studio albums.”
Steve said the pandemic had been “absolutely devastating” for the music industry and everyone was now desperate to return to normality.
“Like so many other bands, we’ve been in deep freeze for the last 18 months and it’s been incredibly frustrating. It has been a dark time of course for everyone but now there is, indeed, light at the end of the tunnel, and we need our Lightsavers to ensure we reach there,” added Steve.
Marillion’s tour begins at Hull’s City Hall on November 14th. For a full list of dates and venues go to www.marillion.com/tour
Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) is back with a new Star One album titled Revel In Time. The new album comes more than 10 years since the previous release and is due out on Feb 18th, 2022 on InsideOutMusic.
The album will be available for pre-order on Dec. 17th and it will come as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, Ltd. Deluxe 3CD+Blu-Ray Artbook (incl. a poster of the cover artwork), and as 180g Gatefold 2LP (incl. the album on CD & an LP-Booklet). CD 2 features alternate versions of the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists. Also available will be a 5.1 mix, a high-res audio version, and an exclusive, hour-long Behind the Scenes video, on the Blu-ray included in the Artbook.
For this Star One release, Arjen has decided to use a different singer for each song, and those singers as well as the instrumentalists are slowly being revealed on Arjen Lucassen’s Facebook page:
Arjen explains the decision to return with a new Star One album:
“Ayreon is like the mothership for all my music. It contains all the different musical styles that I like to listen to and that I love to create. But I’m always looking for challenges and trying to create something new and original as well. Working within a set of constraints forces you to do that, so sometimes I like to limit myself and focus on just one style. For example, with Star One I focus on the metal-side of Ayreon. That means you won’t hear the exuberantly liberal use of acoustic instruments that are so often featured on Ayreon albums, like violin, woodwinds, cello, horns, dulcimer, mandolin, etc.”
The artwork was designed by Ayreon artist Jef Bertels, Arjen explains:
“As always, Jef’s painting is wondrously labyrinthine; I can sit in front of it for hours and discover new details all the time. Now you might be thinking “Hey, isn’t Jef Bertels the designated artist for Ayreon, but not for Star One?” Of course I thought about that myself. But when I realized how much I liked this album I felt that it deserved a painting of its own and a special place alongside Jef’s other front-cover masterpieces. And anyway, I’ve been breaking rules ever since the very beginning of Ayreon. So… there you have it!”
RELEASED – 19TH NOVEMBER / SHARE VIDEO FOR ‘REFUTURING’
Since 2006 Maybeshewill have released four full-length albums of towering, cinematic instrumental music. After a decade long career that saw them tour across four continents they bowed out in 2016 with a sold out show at London’s Koko. Having reformed briefly in 2018 at the request of The Cure’s Robert Smith for a show at Meltdown Festival, 2021 sees the band return with their first new material since 2014’s Fair Youth. Having worked on ideas separately in the intervening years, it was the sketches of music that would become ‘No Feeling is Final’ that pulled the band back together. Building on the songs that they felt needed to be heard, together.
‘No Feeling is Final’ was born from a place of weary exasperation. From the knowledge that we’re living in a world hurtling towards self-destruction. We watch as forests burn and seas rise. As the worst tendencies of humanity are championed by those in power; rage, fear, greed and apathy. We see every injustice, every conflict, every catastrophe flash up on our screens. We stay complacent and consume to forget our complicity in the structures and systems that sustain that behaviour. As the world teeters on the edge of disaster, we sigh and keep scrolling, the uneasy feeling in our stomachs eating away at us a little more each day.
However easy it would be to switch off and pretend all is lost, there’s no choice but to remain engaged. To set that feeling of hopelessness aside and use the fear and frustration as fuel to make something positive.
‘No Feeling is Final’ is a message of hope and solidarity. It’s a story of growing grassroots movements across the world that are rejecting the doomed futures being sold to us, and imagining new realities based on equality and sustainability. It’s a reckoning with the demons in our histories and a promise to right the wrongs of the past. It’s a plea to take action in shaping the world we leave for future generations. It’s a simple gesture of reassurance to anyone else struggling in these troubled times: “Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
Guitarist Robin Southby comments on the new video for first single ‘Refuturing’, directed by Fraser West,
“Conceptually, Refuturing (and the album as a whole) is concerned with the existential dread surrounding the climate crisis, how we understand our complicity in the crisis within the confines of our current morality system and ‘refuturing’ – rejecting existing power structures used to subjugate, and reimagining a future built on entirely new systems that are sustainable and beneficial to all.”
Watch the video now:
Continuing and building on the self-sufficient, do-it-yourself ethos that has been core to their existence, ‘No Feeling is Final’ was once again recorded and produced by bassist Jamie Ward, and will be released on the bands own Robot Needs Home Collective Label, in collaboration with close friends Wax Bodega (North America), New Noise (Asia) and Birds Robe (Australasia) on 19th November.
Legendary British progressive rock band Marillion embark on a UK tour, ‘The Light At The End OF The Tunnel’, in November 2021, ahead of their recently announced 20th album ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ and I sat down to chat with frontman Steve Hogarth about the upcoming live gigs…
Progradar: Hi Steve and thanks for talking to me, I am coming to see the band play on the first night of the upcoming tour, Hull City Hall, on the 14th November and, in a strange kind of synergy, the first time I ever saw Marillion was at Hull City Hall on the 9th July, 1990, so you’re talking 31 years ago!
Steve Hogarth (SH): Blimey! Do you know, I think that was the last time we were there.
Progradar: I’m pretty certain it was too! You know what, I saw you twice before lockdown, at the Royal Albert Hall in 2019 and I also saw you at the York Barbican in 2018, I can remember the songs better, obviously, from the last two but the one that sticks out most in my mind was that one, going back all those years ago. I even remember that Little Angels were the support band, a local band from Scarborough.
SH: Yeh, they were good, I remember them.
Progradar: It’s funny how you can remember these things from all those years ago. Are you looking forward to getting back out there again and playing in front of a live audience?
SH: Yes, very, very much, I think it’s all the more precious because it’s been denied us, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I think, for the audience and the band alike, it will be quite something to walk back on stage in Hull. I’m looking forward to it immensely, yes.
Progradar: I went to see Keane at the open air theatre in Scarborough and it just threw it down with rain all through the gig but I just didn’t care, it was spine tingling to see live music again. I am so excited about seeing you guys in November, I’ve been a fan for over thirty years. The ‘Seasons End’ album and tour are where I really got into the band so, to actually think I’m going to get to see you guys where it all started for me, over thirty years ago is a quite a spine tingling thought actually.
Do you find that there is a difference in audiences in the UK and audiences when you go to the continent or all they all pretty much the same?
SH: Yes there is, audiences even vary from one part of the UK to another, to be honest. To be fair, about 18-20 percent probably travel, so there are people in the UK that are moving around. In that sense the geography is not as important but there are certain hotspots in the UK, Manchester, Liverpool are always terrific, Birmingham and London are usually good. Cardiff is a bit of a slow burner, they’re usually quiet but they go nuts at the end.You get used to the kind of dynamics of what to expect from a crowd, after a few years.
Across in Europe, again, certain parts of Germany, you know you are going to have an amazing show. We’ll have a great show in Cologne and Munich, we’ll usually have a great show in Hamburg. Not so much in Frankfurt and Hanover and, if you go over to France, we’ve always had amazing shows in Paris, it’s just about my favourite place to play on earth. Lyon will be good but not that same electric thing you get in Paris.
Over in Holland, it’s only a small country so it doesn’t vary quite as much there but playing Utrecht and Amsterdam is also special as well.
Progradar: I get a strong impression that Marillion fans have a real affinity with the band and you have a real affinity with the fans, do you agree and do you think it helps when you do the live gigs?
SH: Yes, absolutely, like a family. It’s not ‘us and them’ anymore, it’s very much ‘us and us’, we’re all in this thing together. Way back, at the end of the 90’s, when we (together) invented crowdfunding and we found a way to move forward by having fans pre-order the albums we hadn’t even finished yet, that’s almost become a commonplace thing now but it didn’t exist before we did it. That brought us closer together with the fans, it kind of gave us common cause, in a lot of ways.
The feeling of trust when somebody sends you their hard earned money, sometimes quite a lot of it! We are selling these packages where you don’t get much change out of fifty quid, they buy them with no guarantee at all that we won’t just go to Rio and have a party with their money. There’s a lot of faith and trust there and responsibility on us not to let anybody down, that’s pulled us closer together (with the fans) as well.
Progradar: I think for a lot of fans, you genuinely feel involved in what’s going on with a new album. A lot of bands involve the fans in what’s going on so they do feel invested and that helps when you come to the live stage. Fans feel they are going to see people they know, to a certain extent, play a gig. I feel you will have the goodwill from day one of a tour as 70-80 percent of them will have been fans from day one.
SH: Yes, I’ll probably recognise half of the front row just from all the years of doing it and seeing people. Bit by bit, we, as musicians, become conscious of who’s listening to us, I recognise people at the front and it is very much a family now.
Progradar: Do you get many fans who literally pay to go to every gig on a tour?
SH: It’s quite common to see and to get a message from someone to apologise for missing one like, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get down to St Austell”, and we’re like ” I’m not bloody surprised!”. We do, there are people that will travel to all of the shows and wear that like that a badge of honour, there are people who have even travelled around Europe as well! Similarly, Ive met people from all around the world who’ve travelled miles for a show, Americans who’ve just flown in for one gig and flown out again.
A few years ago we did a show at Shepherds Bush Empire and I met a couple of guys in the alley by the back stage door from Venezuela! I asked them what on earth they were doing there and they said we’d come to see you! So, when people are prepared to do that, it’s extremely mind blowing.
Progradar: I’d imagine it’s pretty humbling when you think they could have spent the equivalent of six months salary just to see one concert?
SH: It is humbling, it’s extremely humbling, it makes my head swim. I don’t think I’ve ever travelled more than sixty miles to see a band in my entire life! I can’t imagine getting on a plane and going to see somebody.
Progradar: Like I say, I saw you at the RAH in 2019 and, apart from having the most uncomfortable seats of any venue I’ve been to, it was an amazing gig, do you find that there is a difference in the atmosphere when you play the bigger venues to when you play the smaller ones?
SH: You can’t really generalise because you can amazing gig in a little club and you can have an amazing gig in a football stadium and every size in between. Each venue, and the space of that venue, has its own character. My job is to walk out there on the stage, get a feeling for it and wring it out like a cloth, get the very best out of that space that I can. That’s part of my job, although it’s not necessarily a conscious process to be fair, part of my job is to go, right, what can we do with this then?
Progradar: I’ve been to concerts where they’ve really dragged and I’ve been to gigs, like the RAH and York Barbican gigs, where the time has flown by and I haven’t wanted to leave. We won’t call it working the audience as you say it is not a conscious process but, you certainly look like you’re enjoying it when you’re up on stage?
SH: Yes, to be honest, it’s dead easy to do when you’re meeting those waves of affection that I’m very fortunate to meet. It doesn’t make my job very difficult at all, all I’ve got to do is kind of bounce it back and see it for what it is, not take it for granted. Just go with what is special about a show from one moment to another, the vibration in the hall, I’ve kind of got to have my radar up, to pick that up and acknowledge it.
Progradar: I would imagine that, even if you played the same set list in two different venues, you’re still going to have two different events, two different concerts?
SH: Totally, yes!
Progradar: So, the new album, which you’ve had a bit of fun with, the fans guessing the album name, there were some quite interesting ones that came up in the Facebook group, some humorous ones as well!
SH: Yes, my favourite was‘All Hard Bastards In Doncaster’, that really creased me up!
Progradar: You said that you are probably going to play one or two tracks from the new album, are you excited about giving the new music an airing in that live setting?
SH: Yes I am, because a lot of the stuff on this new album is really quite upbeat and will work really well live. In the end, we decided we would only play one track. When I say one track, it is about ten minutes long, it’s the equivalent of three of anyone else’s.
Progradar: Long gone are the days of tracks like Hooks In You, three and a half minute radio friendly stuff!
SH: Never say never but, we haven’t written a three minute song for quite a while now, it takes us three minutes to get to verse one these days. We’ve got a song called Be Hard On Yourself and I can tell by the nature of how we wrote it that it is going to be great live, it’s really going to kick arse! I’m looking forward to giving that an airing for sure.
Progradar: I’m really looking forward to hearing it, I have been prevaricating but finally got around to ordering the double vinyl today, especially when I saw it was the last day to get your name in the credits! I don’t know about you but, I grew up on vinyl and cassette tapes, then sold it all to make way for CDs and now we are buying vinyl reissues and remasters at ten times more than we we paid for them when they first came out in the 70’s and 80’s!
I have bought good quality pre-owned copies of ‘Holidays In Eden’ and ‘Seasons End’ and boxsetsof ‘Marbles’ and ‘Brave‘. If you pushed me I would say that ‘Marbles’ is my favourite Marillion album, closely followed by ‘Seasons End’.
SH: Great, what’s your favourite track on ‘Marbles’ then?
Progradar: Funnily enough, I have just been listening to it in the car, it’s Fantastic Place, it’s one of my all time favourite Marillion songs. You played it live in York with a couple of my other favourite Marillion songs which are Seasons End and Easter but I absolutely love Fantastic Place.
SH: That’s a feather in my hat because I wrote two out of the three of those songs.
Progradar: There’s also Steve Rothery’s guitar in that song, it has no edges, do you know what I mean? It’s smooth and the solo just bleeds emotion. Leading on to the next question, you’ve also said you are going to play what you consider to be the best of your catalogue. With so many albums behind you, how do you pick the tracks on the setlist? Is it a democratic process, do you get a massive list and then just whittle it down?
SH: Yes, more or less. We all get a vote each, make a list, whatever wins gets chosen. We did decide for this particular tour that we would play what we all personally felt were our most important songs. Anyone who comes hoping to hear a couple of obscurities will probably be disappointed but anyone who’s hoping to hear the really big songs, they’ll be delighted because that is what they are going to get.
Progradar: So I can sort of live in hope that I am maybe going to hear one of my favourite three on the 14th November?
SH: You certainly can, for sure.
Progradar: Not being a musician, I find this quite fascinating, are there songs that you like off studio albums that you think wouldn’t work in the live experience?
SH: There’s certainly a couple, yes. TheFruit Of The Wild Rose has always been very tricky live because, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, it kind of goes into a groove at the end that is set down by an acoustic guitar, playing a loop and then it kind of kicks off with a guitar solo overlapped and we just don’t have enough guitar players in the band to do both! I’m not a good enough acoustic guitar player to be able to lay that loop down while Steve solos, Pete probably is but then I’m not a good enough bass player to cover the bass duties!
So there are one or two that kind of came into the world as studio works and are a bit of a struggle. I mean, we have still done them but they’re trickier things to roll out.
Progradar: I don’t want to put you on the spot as there’s hundreds of songs you’ve written but, are there a couple of songs that you particularly enjoy playing live yourself?
SH: Yes, for sure, I really like to sing The Invisible Man, that’s one of my favourites to perform. What else would I look forward to doing? I enjoy playing Gaza, I enjoy playing A Few Words For The Dead, to be honest. Seasons End and Estonia, they’re both great to play.
Progradar: I remember Seasons End at York Barbican in 2018, my friend Iain Sloan came down from Scotland, he lives near Edinburgh and is a guitarist in an Americana band call The Wynntown Marshals. We were stood together, almost in tears, it was one of those moments you’ll remember forever.
You said you enjoy playing in Holland and that leads me on to my next question, are you intending doing Marillion Weekends again?
SH: Yes, we absolutely are, we had to keep kicking it down the road. The thing about Port Zelande is that we promote the entire thing ourselves and we’re about half a million quid in the whole before anyone turns up. If, god forbid, the Dutch government decided to lock the country down, it would cost us more money than we could stand to lose, to be honest. So we had to keep postponing it and we moved it to next spring and then we decided we couldn’t even risk that. We moved it again, I think it’s booked in for March 2023 now, it’ll happen but we’ve just got to get through this strange pandemic that seems to be a bit slow to leave.
Progradar: I’m 54 this year and none of us are as young as we used to be. You’ve been touring for donkey’s years, do you find it more tiring now or does just getting out on that stage just infuse you with energy?
SH: I can’t remember, it’s so long ago! I am two years older than the last time I did it so there is a part of me thinking I hope I’m up to this? I’d better get out on the bike and get myself sorted out a bit. I’m going to find out, it may come as a terrible shock!
Progradar: Do you keep fit before you go on a tour, do you do anything extra?
SH: I’ll do a little bit, I won’t do enough because I’m a lazy sod but I should really. I mean, I can’t just expect to remain fit, I’ve got to make the effort. I live in a three storey house so I’m up and down the stairs and get a few steps in but I’m going to have to do a bit more.
Progradar: I really appreciate your time Steve, it’s been brilliant talking to you, just one final question before we sign off. It’s a question I ask everyone who I interview, do you prefer writing and recording and album or do you prefer playing the material live?
SH: Playing the material live, night and day, for me. I hate writing, I hate most of recording, once you get beyond a certain point then it does start to become exciting but that takes such a long time. Whereas to play live is the point of it for me so, hands down, I prefer playing live.
Progradar: I’ll just tag a little bit on the end of that, when you’re on tour, can you hit the same level of enthusiasm at the last gig that you had at the first?
SH: Absolutely, no problem at all, I love it!
Progradar: That’s brilliant, I really appreciate your time and I am so looking forward to seeing you at Hull City Hall on November 14th!
SH: Thanks for your time and thanks for your support man!
Marillion‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ tour starts on 14th November at Hull City Hall.
Pre-order Marillion’s 20th album, ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ here: