Review – Marillion – Holidays In Eden – 2022 Remix Deluxe Edition – by Leo Trimming

‘Holidays in Eden’, first released in 1991, is the latest edition in Marillion’s series of deluxe re-releases. This was a release for which their record company E.M.I. had high expectations of the band after Steve Hogarth’s debut album with the band in 1989. ‘Seasons End’ was relatively successful, but crucially for E.M.I. it did not spawn any great singles success which would have helped it ‘cross over’ from the niche rock market, as ‘Kayleigh’ had so memorably done in the mid-80’s. Therefore, the pressure was on for Marillion to become more commercial although the band were largely more interested in writing more ambitious pieces than three-minute radio hits. Out of this tension developed an album which certainly divided opinion at the time, but which also produced some classic Marillion songs, particularly the stark brilliance of Splintering Heart, which remains to this day a staple of their tours, often opening shows with a dark grandeur.

So let’s put this album in context – It is a common perception that most bands have a ‘difficult second album’ (and Marillion certainly did so with ‘Fugazi’ with Fish in 1984!!), but uniquely somehow Marillion contrived to have a ‘second difficult second album’ as ‘Holidays in Eden’ was a far from smooth process for Steve Hogarth’s sophomore album with the band. What the band were finding is that working on the next release with Hogarth was simply not flowing in the same way as their experience with ‘Seasons End’. Writing sessions at Stanbridge studios near Brighton were lengthy and frustrating, producing little material. ‘Seasons End’ had already had a lot of the music formed with sessions with Fish that never reached fruition. Lyrically, John Helmer had also written significant contributions, so when Steve Hogarth joined it felt deceptively easy to hone this material with some added material, such as Hogarth’s ‘Easter’, into an excellent album. Their second album with Hogarth was much more of a challenge, starting more or less from scratch. Hogarth and the band were discovering they had very different approaches to song writing and it took them some time to adjust to each other. Indeed, at one-point tensions grew to the point that Hogarth was effectively ‘sent home’ as his more rapid, business-like song-writing style just was not matching the rest of the band who were rather more into improvised jamming over long periods, looking for that elusive spark amidst hours of often fruitless playing. However, after that ‘break’ Hogarth returned two weeks later with a whole new song for the band, ‘The Party’ very much in the Marillion mould. Additionally, in his absence the rest of the band returned to material they had originally demoed in 1988 with Fish in ill-fated sessions at Dalnagar Castle in Scotland and eventually out of those ideas grew the closing suite of ‘This Town / Rake’s progress / 100 Nights’… but it was clear that generally things were not quite flowing second time around.

The band attempted to recreate their happy memories of the recording of Season’s End, returning to Hook End Manor in Oxfordshire – but they do say ‘never go back’. Marillion found this was not such a magical experience, partly because it was in winter and not a glorious summer as it had been for the previous album, and possibly because E.M.I. were not being quite so ‘laissez-faire’ with funding their rather extravagant life in the country! Marillion’s previous producer Chris Kimsey was not available so E.M.I. put forward Chris Neil as their next producer, who had previously starred as Jesus on the West End in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’… and rather more curiously had also been the lead in a cheap early 70’s sex comedy film ‘Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate’! In the music industry he was rather more well known for great success with pop acts like Shakin’ Stevens, Dollar and Sheena Easton. In the period leading up to ‘Holidays in Eden’ he had also produced Mike and the Mechanics for their massive hit album and single ‘The Living Years’, so it seems evident that E.M.I. had aspirations for Marillion to similarly have success as a chart friendly soft rock band. Chris Neil’s association with the main ‘Mechanic’ Mike Rutherford of rock behemoths Genesis certainly made him a palatable and quite enticing option for the band. Chris Neil also told them that his son was a massive Marillion fan, so he really did not want to mess them up. On the other hand, he also knew that the record company were expecting him to produce three hit singles off the album to project the band onto the next level and match their previous mid-80’s chart successes. Hence, out of that tension between Marillion’s progressive leanings and a record company’s desire for ‘hits’ was born the curious creature of ‘Holidays in Eden’.

It is probably fair to say that fan reaction at the time was mixed. Jon Collins in his fine Marillion biography ‘Separated out’ shared that the Dutch Progressive Rock Page reported that on the ‘Holidays in Eden’ tour at the Ahoy in Netherlands ‘a substantial part of the audience booed when Steve Hogarth announced they would be playing quite a lot from the new album’. In contrast, notable fans such as guitarist Janick Gers of Iron Maiden has said that ‘Holidays in Eden’ is one of his most favourite albums and apparently Formula One Racing driver Jacques Villeneuve used to listen to the album while practising for races! Pete Trewavas wisely said in the fascinating accompanying Blu-ray ‘Pain and Heaven’ documentary, for some fans who had started following Marillion with ‘Seasons End’ or ‘Holidays in Eden’ this album may well be one of their favourite Marillion albums as ‘these albums end up becoming other peoples’ really.

So how does it sound over 30 years later?

There will probably be two sorts of potential listeners considering this album – those that have bought it previously and are interested in the musical ‘extras’, the remixed sound, and the packaging. There will be others who may be discovering Marillion more recently who may know little about this album and wonder whether it’s worth buying?

The short answer is a qualified ‘YES’ – in truth this album was too hamstrung by compromises to be considered as one of their best albums, but there is enough quality in the original material and the extras to satisfy punters old and new. Unlike the flawed and rushed original mix of ‘Fugazi’, which the deluxe edition remix transformed wonderfully, this remix of ‘Holidays in Eden’ does not have the same transformative effect, as the original version was pretty well produced and mixed. However, this remix does add a new dimension to some of the songs and there is much else to attract longer term followers. A little more information on the tracks may help new listeners, and may provide some insights for long-time fans.

The more progressive elements of Marillion are well represented on this album with ‘Splintering Heart’, ‘The Party’ and the closing ‘This Town’ suite. ‘Splintering Heart’ started out rather differently in the demos, beginning much more heavy with a wall of wailing guitars, as can be heard rather spectacularly on the Blu-Ray with an early version recorded live at the Moles club. Chris Neil in Steve Hogarth’s ‘Corona Diaries’ podcasts has shared that he felt that the original version did not have enough dynamic range as an album opener so he suggested a different spookier intro, which rather belies the notion that he was just there to make them sound more ‘poppy’. Steve Rothery and Mark Kelly spent quite some time devising the atmospheric opening sequence of loops and synthesisers – it helped transform a fairly standard rock song into a classic, dripping with menace as ‘h’ sings with such feeling over the extended intro until the jaw dropping moment when he sings ‘but not as much as this…’ and the whole band crashes in like an avalanche, with Rothery’s guitar screeching like a banshee. The piece drops again into a more contemplative, shimmering section based on guitar samples Hogarth used to trigger with his white midi-gloves for live renditions of the ‘Seasons End’ song ‘Berlin, apparently one of the few times that something emerging from a Marillion gig soundcheck has evolved into a song. The song rises to a crescendo with Rothery seemingly wringing the neck of his guitar with pain filled guitar sounds and one can really imagine someone’s heart shattering. Hogarth has previously shared in the 1998 remaster version that he wrote the lyrics in a rather icy Toronto in 1990 and that he was ‘imagining a heart shattering from its own hardness… or coldness’. Splintering Heart continues the fine Marillion tradition of brilliant album opening songs and it remains a sure fire way to start a Marillion gig all these years later.

The more Progressive flavour of the album continues with ‘The Party’. Hogarth had started work on this during the ‘Seasons End’ writing sessions but largely finished it whilst he was on his aforementioned ‘break’ during the ‘Holidays…’ sessions. This song goes totally against the idea by some fans at the time that Hogarth was the pretty ‘pop boy’ trying to commercialise Marillion – as Hogarth wrote in the 1998 remaster sleeve notes ‘if Splintering Heart and The Party are pop songs, I’ll eat my pink telecaster!’ Indeed in the ‘Pain and Heaven’ documentary Pete Trewavas described ‘The Party’ as ‘quite classically Marillion. ‘The Party’ is a recollection of teenage parties, drawn from Hogarth’s adolescent memories of dubious underage drinking and the sexually charged atmosphere pervading such gatherings. Some of the lines were also inspired by another party – Hogarth’s experience with Magic Mushrooms after a memorable ‘Mexican Party’ at Stanbridge studios! ‘The Party’ starts quite simply with Steve Hogarth singing about a girl buying a bottle of cider over a simple Kelly piano motif, initially mirroring the naivety of a young girl going to her first party. The rising tempo and power of the music evokes the developing drama with ‘strange aromas, and noises and candles, that was where he found her’. Chris Neil recently shared in ‘The Corona Diaries’ podcast how impressed he was with Hogarth’s lyrics for ‘The Party’. He loved the lyrical story with its plot and nuances, describing Hogarth’s songs as ‘one act plays’. The rest of the band provided the backdrop for this drama as the trippy middle section in which ‘she never felt like anything like this before’ gives way to a distorted, guitar solo and great rumbling bass work and dissonant drumming, evoking how she would have been feeling after her first drug experience. Hogarth screams in anguish before the inevitable ‘come down’ over a plaintive piano and Hogarth’s voice conveying the feelings of the girl after losing her virginity in less than romantic circumstances. In some ways there are echoes of the much more celebrated classic psychodrama ‘Incubus’ song from ‘Fugazi’, and in my view ‘The Party’ is a highlight of ‘Holidays in Eden’, and rather an underestimated gem in the Marillion songbook. Curiously, Hogarth also shared with ‘Prog’ magazine that the teenage party upon which this story is based was also the first time he ever heard ‘The Yes Album’ by Yes which he says ‘changed my whole idea about music’– sounds like quite a party!! (😊)

The album is closed with the 12 minutes progressive rock three act play comprising ‘This Town’, ‘The Rake’s Progress’ and ‘100 Nights’. During the early writing sessions the band were struggling to find a creative spark so they returned to material from the abortive Dalnagar sessions in 1988 with Fish, and they found the basis for this closing epic.’ ‘This Town’ rolls in on a police siren , a wave of Mosley’s drumming and some gritty guitar from Rothery. Kelly’s keyboards rise as they reach the rousing chorus. Rothery’s guitars get dirtier as the story descends into corruption and Hogarth’s vocals become more strident, and after the final chorus Rothery’s guitars reach skyward conversely just as the narrative takes a decidedly darker  descent:

‘This Town takes us down, takes us down, I feel like I’m losing you to This Town,

The morning breaks and I watch you awake and This Town takes you down away from me again.’

The semi-autobiographical but mainly fictional story focuses on how a couple move to a city to make their fortune. However, they discover that cities can corrupt, and it starts to tear them apart as they follow their own ambitions. The short middle bridge in the suite, The Rake’s Progress, takes a very different direction musically with muted dreamy synth tones, subtle bass pulses, restrained rolls and splashes of toms and cymbals and eerie guitar phrases conveying a sinister, shadowy world in which our main protagonist transforms from being the jilted broken heart into a manipulative, cynical gigolo. The title is also a play on words as ‘The Rake’s Progress’ is a series of paintings by C18th painter William Hogarth (no relation!) about a young man’s descent into drunken debauchery and eventual insanity.  

The final piece of this suite is the dark brooding ‘100 Nights’ which chimes in on a simple echoing guitar motif and synth accents with our anti-hero manipulating all around him without compunction. Hogarth sings with deceptive gentleness, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, ruining a relationship with cool indifference. Rothery’s screeching guitar break almost screams out the real corruption at the heart of this story and Hogarth’s vocals rise in power with the whole band. ‘100 Nights’ seems to just fade away with a rolling guitar riff and echoing vocals on a subtle bed of keys, drums and bass – maybe it signifies that the main protagonist will drift on exploiting others endlessly, but it is rather disappointing as a finale. In the documentary Mark Kelly comments that in his view ‘we skimmed the surface of it in terms of what we could have done with it instrumentally’ which seems to confirm the nagging feeling that this was a lost opportunity with a great foundation which was not fully explored or expanded enough. Kelly has also said that Chris Neil worked very quickly and that his no nonsense approach rather limited musical experimentation, especially for the keyboards, except notably his inspired suggestion for the start of ‘Splintering Heart.’ For a producer with an ear for hooks and hits it is probably not too surprising that when it came to helping the band fashioning more ambitious extended pieces, he was rather less motivated or instrumental in realising those sorts of musical visions.

This is perhaps borne out by the interesting lineage of ‘This Town’ which can be traced on the deluxe edition as the Blu-Ray includes a very early demo version at Stanbridge, and then a later live demo at the Bath Moles club, through to the recorded album version. What is notable about the Stanbridge demo, recorded without the producer, is that it has a distinctly staccato and rockier feel much in the vein of classic songs by The Who – indeed Ian Mosley shared in the documentary that it was known as ‘the Who number’ in the Stanbridge sessions. The later Moles Club version seems to take it further into heavier territory with great energy. In that context it is easier to understand some of the disappointment expressed by both Ian Mosley and Steve Rothery in the documentary about the loss of that energy and feel in the final recorded version. Steve Rothery did remark that the new remix does restore some of the ‘meat it lacks on the original’ album version. It is also notable that now if Marillion play the ‘This Town’ suite they embellish it sonically and with much more power as if making up for not having done so originally.

Mark Kelly in his entertaining autobiography ‘Marillion Misadventures and Marathons : the Life and Times of Mad Jack’ describes ‘Holidays in Eden’ with the old football analogy as ‘an album with two halves. The pop approach of our singles… and, so not to scare the horses and some of our older fans, the longer episodic pieces…’ Before venturing into the ‘Pop half’ there is one halfway house in the shape of the far more straightforward rock of title tune ‘Holidays in Eden’. Based on a John Helmer lyric about going on holiday and losing your identity ‘Holidays in Eden’, begins with birdsong and a jet plane before launching full tilt into the main riff with crashing drums, banks of keyboards and power riffs before receding into jangling guitars and soft drumming on a synth bed. The rolling anthemic refrain precedes some meaty organ work from Kelly and the whole piece bounces along rather jauntily before some steepling guitar lines at the rather apt mid-song break ‘You wake up one morning, wondering who you are’, which may have crossed the minds of the band during this recording process as they sought to find their new identity.

The song ploughs on with the same rock driven pattern with a rising Rothery guitar and Kelly keyboard crescendo and a rather abrupt ending and a muted ‘well, that was a laugh, wasn’t it?’ heard in the background. It’s a straightforward engaging piece of rock/pop but it seems to have disappointed the band. Written by the rest of the band whilst Hogarth was on his ‘break’, in the 1998 remaster notes he suggests the music could have been a lot wilder to reflect the primal elements of the story. Pete Trewavas shares this reservation stating that it ‘should have been more than it was’. Similarly, Rothery states in the documentary that their live version gives it more energy and rawness, and in his view the remix has restored some of that edge.

Chris Neil had a brief from E.M.I. to find three hit singles. The first obvious candidate was ‘No One Can’, based on a chord sequence by Mark Kelly upon which Hogarth wrote a touching love song for his wife and shared memories with his children, about distance not mattering if you are in love. Mark Kelly considers it a good pop song although felt a little frustrated that for Neil the main focus was always about the vocals, which are lushly arranged with Hogarth sounding gorgeous, but no real room for any musical experimentation or embellishment, except a short clean and compressed guitar interlude. There are definite echoes of the smooth jangling chimes of The Police’s ‘Every Breath you take’, but alas despite extensive radio play at the time and a stylish video it did not really penetrate the higher reaches of the U.K. charts. It is probably the most commercial song the band have ever produced and certainly caused some consternation with some older fans at the time, but looking back now it just feels like a pleasant, pretty pop song – indeed, as Hogarth has said in his ‘Corona Diaries’ podcasts it definitely sounds like a hit from 1992… but it wasn’t!

The first single off the album was the rather more upbeat pop/rock of ‘Cover My Eyes’ (Pain and Heaven)’ which was not even a song before Chris Neil joined them to produce the album. He suggested marrying a distinctly U2 or Simple Minds like guitar riff and vocal melody by Rothery with a verse from an old song by Hogarth’s previous short lived ‘How We Live’ band, called ‘Simon’s Car’. Apparently, the lyrics are partly inspired by the glamourous 60’s British film actress Eleanor Bron, probably embodying all such unobtainable beautiful women, as reflected in the beautiful women populating the rather stylish pop video. It is a fun piece of rollocking pop/rock with an anthemic ‘hey, hey, hey’ call echoing a certain Simple Minds refrain. The band roll along to great polished effect with Rothery sounding suitably heroic on guitar. One curiosity about this song is that for some strange reason Chris Neil brought drummer Roland Kerridge into the studio to sample Ian Mosley’s drums so they could be played on an electronic kit, which was quite the fashion at the time. Mosley plays the drums on this song but they are all electronic, hence their rather ‘shiny’ and ‘bright’ sound – they sound ‘OK’ but why sample drums electronically when you have a drummer of the class of Ian Mosley in the studio? Chris Neil has since had the good grace to admit that this probably not his best idea!

There was still one more ‘single’ Chris Neil needed to fashion for the album to satisfy the label, so he suggested that Marillion cover ‘Dry Land’ from the only ‘How We Live’ album. Hogarth explains in the documentary that this felt rather awkward and weird for him as it was ‘not something I would have pushed for myself’, thereby squashing further the notion that it was Steve Hogarth who was pushing the band in a poppier direction. Nevertheless, Hogarth gives a great vocal about the sexual tension of thinking there may be something going on with someone you like, but not being quite sure. ‘Dry Land’ is very close to the original ‘How We Live’ version – indeed , it’s almost a carbon copy! Marillion smoothly lay out a bed of softly chiming guitars and string synths underpinned by a cool bass and drums foundation. The main variation to the original is Rothery’s delightfully tasteful guitar solo, which surprisingly Rothery states is the solo he is most proud of on the whole album.

Every Marillion album has at least one ‘hidden gem’ which seems to not quite gain the attention it may deserve in comparison to other more celebrated songs. For me on this album it is Waiting to Happen, and it was pleasing to note in the documentary that Steve Rothery feels it is one of his favourite songs from the album and ‘it’s what I would have wanted from the whole album’. Apparently, the band were considering dropping it, but Chris Neil wisely encouraged them to persist with the song which was eventually beautifully realised. It starts gently on a pillow of acoustic guitars and softly undulating synths upon which Hogarth sings with such grace about the magic and beauty of Love just below the surface in our lives. Hogarth shared that this lyric was based on a memory of lying in bed in his house unable to sleep ‘I lie awake at night, listening to you sleeping, I hear the darkness breathe’ and such is the gentleness of the words and music you almost feel you are in the same room. Out of this soft cocoon the spirit and music build to the bright sunburst of the chorus. Steve Rothery inevitably crowns this gem with a short but lovely guitar solo. The balance of the restrained verses and the celebratory choruses is the real power of this song, and Hogarth excels himself with some beautifully poetic imagery… insomnia never sounded so glorious!

Despite the attention Chris Neil and the band skilfully paid to these three ‘pop’ elements of the album none of them reached far up the charts, and from that album onwards it was clear that E.M.I. were losing patience with the band. Similarly, after the experience of being guided in a direction with which they were not totally comfortable Marillion were determined that in future they would remain in full control of future albums. Being typically Marillion they next moved almost 180 degrees from the ‘poppiest’ album of their career to one of their most progressive and ambitious releases, ‘Brave’ in 1994… but their days with E.M.I. were numbered. The main flaw with ‘Holidays in Eden‘ is that it simply tried too hard to satisfy conflicting aspirations, chart pop success versus expansive progressive rock pieces, and frankly it was largely unsuccessful on both counts. That does not make it a poor-quality album – there’s some great songs on here, and none of them are below standard. However, that unresolved tension resulted in diluting the focus with significant compromise and undermined the cohesiveness and feel of the album. The consequence many point to that arose from ‘Holidays…’ is the very different ‘Brave’ which was clearly a reaction to this one, but interestingly in the documentary Pete Trewavas intelligently draws a link to their great ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ album in 1995. He feels that what Marillion were trying to do on ‘Holidays in Eden’ was an album like ‘Afraid of Sunlight’, but ‘we just didn’t know how to do it’, which is a fascinating thought.

That’s the album – so what do you get with the deluxe edition, particularly if you are already familiar with the original album?

There is not the revelatory experience akin to the remix of ‘Fugazi’ for this remix, but it is definitely crisper and more impactful. It is perhaps significant that the songs which benefited most from the remix were the more ambitious, expansive pieces. Splintering Heart’s sinister programmed intro is more resonant and chilling, and The Party is noticeably sharper, with Pete Trewavas’ bass definitely and pleasantly higher up in the mix. ‘Holidays in Eden’ clearly has more ‘balls’ sonically. The remix for the shorter, more pop oriented pieces seem less obvious in impact, but in truth none of these changes are startling which is a testament to the quality of the original production. Of course, some with high end music systems will probably be able to detect the tiniest differences and pick up on them, but to most mere mortals with standard equipment the differences are not enormous, but definitely do improve some of the songs.

Discs 2 & 3 of the deluxe edition contain a brilliant recording of the band at Hammersmith Odeon in 1991 – it’s a fantastic recording of a great gig. Marillion may have gone through some changes and challenges in their career, but they are never less than great on stage. There is a healthy mix of old and new material, and it was clear that by this time Hogarth was growing into the skin as the new Marillion vocalist. Unexpected gems include the sinisterly delicate ‘A Collection’ and two deep cuts from ‘Misplaced Childhood’. The material from ‘Seasons End’ sounds particularly effective in this show, especially ‘King of Sunset Town’ and ‘The Space…’, as they had more time to ‘bed in’ with the band.

The main attraction of the deluxe edition are the extras, including the ‘Pain and Heaven’ documentary in which each band member and the producer are interviewed individually. This may have been a covid issue, but interviewing them singly does seem to free up some band members who may not speak so much in a group interview. There are some fascinating insights from the band members into the album, although it is interesting to note that Steve Hogarth has admitted in the ‘Corona Diaries’ podcasts that the director Tim Sidwell had to re-edit the film as they were so self-critical that ‘it comes across everyone thought the album was a huge mistake’!! (😊) To be honest, you still sort of get that sense underlying Steve Rothery’s contributions, but it would be unfair to completely dismiss the album when one considers the quality of some of the songs already described.

In addition, the Blu-ray includes the album in 5.1 Audio which reveals the album in more satisfying surround sound clarity. The B-Sides and Bonus tracks from the 1998 remaster are also included on the Blu-ray, although I know some fans without that previous version will be disappointed that these tracks are confined to the Blu-ray on this edition. There are 4 videos of the band, including the great ‘crunchy’ original Stanbridge demo of ‘This Town’. The Blu-Ray also features the glossy videos for the three aforementioned singles – these are definitely ‘of their time’, but are fascinating insights into the ‘Pop machine’ E.M.I. wanted Marillion to join… but they resisted… and are still going strong over 30 years later.

Finally, one of the best elements of the deluxe edition is ‘Rockpalast’ video of their gig in Germany in 1991. What is clear is that this is a highly professional and confident live outfit with impeccable musicianship. Needless to say, they all look SO much younger, and Hogarth is impossibly handsome as their dynamic front man – no wonder E.M.I. wanted him to feature in the videos. It’s a television recording, but the quality on Blu-ray is fine and the crowd seem to lap up the show.  What is rather different to the Hammersmith show is the extended encore section with five Fish era songs, perhaps with a German TV audience in mind, which Hogarth handles with aplomb.  Somewhat unexpectedly they break into Cliff Richard’s ‘Summer Holiday’ during ‘Garden Party’ and ‘Sugar Mice’ is presented acoustically without Rothery’s guitar solo. The deluxe edition is presented in the usual attractive book form with Sarah Ball’s original striking beautiful blue illustration given more space – this as the first Marillion album to ditch the classic Marillion logo as it seemed clear they wanted to break from that image. The book and lyrics are decorated inside with some gorgeous artwork from Simon Ward and there is an interesting essay by Rich Wilson.

‘Holidays in Eden’ will never be regarded as one of the great Marillion albums. It showed a band at the crossroads, looking for a new direction but still not sure where to go at the time and pulled in different directions. Nevertheless, it is a significant album which strangely did influence their next step and underlined to the band the importance of artistic freedom when writing their music. Look back and wonder what might have happened if one of those singles had been a big hit – what would we have missed? Look back and see a band evolving towards a different future – clearly there was ‘Something Waiting to Happen.’

TRACK LISTING:

CD One –  Holidays in Eden 2022 Remix

  1. Splintering Heart                                     (6.45)
  2. Cover My Eyes (Pain & Heaven)           (4.04)
  3. The Party                                                  (5.37)
  4. No One Can                                              (4.46)
  5. Holidays in Eden                                      (5.23)
  6. Dry Land                                                    (4.45)
  7. Waiting to Happen                                  (4.55)
  8. This Town                                                  (3.19)
  9. The Rake’s Progress                                (1.54)
  10. 100 Nights                                                 (7.47)

CD Two –  Live at Hammersmith 30th September, 1991 (pt 1)

  1. Splintering Heart                                      (6.47)
  2. Garden Party                                             (7.13)
  3. Dry Land                                                     (4.51)
  4. The King of Sunset Town                        (8.12)
  5. The Party                                                   (6.08)
  6. Easter                                                         (6.34)
  7. The Space…                                               (7.50)
  8. Holloway Girl                                            (4.05)
  9. A Collection                                               (3.14)
  10. Waiting to Happen                                  (5.08)

CD Three – Live in Hammersmith 30th September, 1991 (pt 2)

  1. Cover My Eyes (Pain & Heaven)            (3.55)
  2. Lords of the Backstage                            (1.51)
  3. Blind Curve                                                (4.15)
  4. The Uninvited Guest                                (4.25)
  5. This Town                                                  (3.44)
  6. The Rake’s Progress                                 (2.15)
  7. 100 Nights                                                 (4.46)
  8. Slainte Mhath                                           (5.10)
  9. Holidays in Eden                                      (4.47)
  10. Hooks in You                                             (3.15)
  11. No One Can                                               (4.56)
  12. Berlin                                                          (8.14)
  13. Kayleigh                                                      (3.52)
  14. Incommunicado                                        (5.11)

Blu-Ray Disc

‘Holidays in Eden’ 2022 Stephen Taylor Remix – 5.1 Audio Version:

  • Same Track listing as CD 1

B-Sides & Bonus Tracks   (1998 Remaster Bonus Tracks):

  • Sympathy
  • How Can it Hurt
  • A Collection
  • Sympathy (Acoustic version)
  • I Will Walk on Water (Alternate Mix)
  • Splintering Heart (Live at Moles Club)
  • You Don’t need Anyone (Moles Club Demo)
  • No One Can (Moles Club Demo)
  • The Party (Moles Club Demo)
  • This Town (Moles Club Demo)
  • Waiting to Happen (Moles Club Demo)
  • Eric
  • The Epic (Fairground) (Mushroom Farm Demo)

Film – ‘Pain and Heaven’  (Approv 85 Mins)

The Story of Holidays in Eden  (Documentary)

‘Rockpalast’ Live show – German TV 1991.

Order direct from Marillion here:

marillion.com | Racket Records Store

Review – Marillion – An Hour Before It’s Dark

“No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

With ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’, Marillion release one of their most upbeat albums of their career while, at the same time, they once again do not shy away from uncomfortable topics, reflect on their own behaviour, and put their finger in the wounds of time. 

The band’s 20th studio album, Like its predecessor, 2016’s critically acclaimed and chart-topping album ‘F*** Everyone And Run (F E A R)’, was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. But, whereas it’s predecessor was more a dark and condemning comment on the government and the bureaucrats who ran the country, this new release deals with the pandemic in a much more hopeful and enriching manner leading to the band calling it their most upbeat album in quite a while.

There’s no getting away from it, a new Marillion album is always a great occasion and a cause for celebration but the release of ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ coincides with us hopefully seeing the pandemic diminishing rapidly and a sense of normality returning to everyday life and mirrors this new found feeling of optimism and promise.

I’d been one of the lucky ones who saw the band on their ‘Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ tour (in fact, I saw them on at the first gig in Hull) so my appetite had been whetted by already hearing the wonderfully dramatic Be Hard On Yourself, albeit in a live setting. Nine minutes of intense but fast paced music with Steve Hogarth’s distinctive vocals at the centre of this impressive track, it certainly opens the album in style. Reprogram The Gene delivers a powerful missive with the hard edged guitar and drums driving the song along, aided and abetted by a sharp suited bassline and keyboards. Steve Rothery has been given free reign to deliver some mighty power chords and Ian Mosley delivers an utterly mesmerising performance behind the drum kit. There’s a determined and catchy feel to this song and it resonates throughout the album as the short, sweet instrumental, Only A Kiss segues into the second single from the album, the irrepressibly infectious Murder Machines, a song that was born in the challenging times of lockdown and social distancing and has become so much more than just a mirror of our times, more than a song that deals with the precious as well as dark sides of human relationships. Steve Hogarth is in fine voice, especially on the buoyant chorus and Rothery’s guitar just sings perfectly.

Three songs into the album and I’m already hooked, it’s a record of, and for, its time, emotive and emotional and that is felt throughout the wistfully brilliant The Crow And The Nightingale, a nostalgic nod to Leonard Cohen and one of my favourite tracks on the album, one that just flows beautifully and shows the band’s thoughtful and contemplative side impeccably. That reflective tone carries on into the sublime Sierra Leone, another great song that sees the band in a storytelling frame of mind. This is a set of musicians who are playing at a ridiculously high level and delivering some of their best songs of a long and illustrious career, a band who are comfortable with themselves and their music and it is really obvious. This track builds gradually, the tempo increasing almost imperceptibly, before Rothery’s guitar breaks out, accompanied by Hogarth’s ever more dynamic voice. There are lulls as it ebbs and flows elegantly, always holding your attention, a fine piece of music indeed.

This superb and entrancing album comes to a close with one of Marillion’s finest ever tracks. In a long career of superlatives Care has to be right there at the top, a three part song that plumbs the depths of despair before rising through to end in promise and optimism. Pete Trewavas shows he is still one of the best bass players around and Rothery’s guitar is just transcendent, he really is at the top of his game. Mark Kelly delivers some bewitching keys throughout the album but none more so than here. This track really showcases the band’s impressive song writing abilities. Impassioned and passionate and, ultimately, uplifting, it is, possibly, the most perfect song they have ever written.

I have been a fan of Marillion for over three decades and, in a career of superlatives, ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ can truly be seen as one of their most accomplished albums. It is an outstanding piece of music that the band should be incredibly proud of and, even though we are only in February, it will take something amazing to knock it off the top of my album of the year list.

Released March 4th, 2022

Order from the band here:

Marillion Album 20 Official Pre-order Store (ear-music.net)

Marillion – ‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ Tour – Live At Hull City Hall – Sunday, November 14th, 2021

“Live is Life…”

Life came full circle at Hull City Hall on Sunday evening, 14th November 2021. I first saw Marillion at this venue on the 9th July, 1990 and, thirty-one years later, here I was, about to watch one of my favourite bands on the first gig of their ‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ tour.

It’s been a long time since Marillion last played live to their loyal fans, as Steve Hogarth said at the start of the gig, over 700 days! and you could sense the excitement in the venue beforehand. For the only time in living memory, the queue for the merch stand was way longer than the queue for the bar!

Antimatter

The support act was a duo called Antimatter and their short set was an excellent appetiser for what was to follow. Powerful vocals with electric and acoustic guitars made for a great listen and the audience were very appreciative.

The atmosphere in Hull City Hall had been building to a crescendo as the band came onto the stage full of vigour and enthusiasm and an honest joy at playing in front of a live audience again.

I saw the band last at the Royal Albert Hall nearly two years ago, in November 2019 and they just seemed to be so up for this gig, Steve Hogarth was laughing and smiling had a great rapport with his band mates, Pete Trewavas was bounding around the stage with obvious energy, Ian Mosley was a powerhouse behind the drum kit, Steve Rothery patrolled his corner of the stage in his usual stately manner and Mark Kelly was dominant, raised at the back of the stage behind his impressive bank of keyboards.

Steve Hogarth explained that the setlist would be a sort of greatest hits that the band had collaborated on and the concert opened with a blistering version of Sounds That Can’t Be Made and followed it up with the iconic King, Hogarth central on the stage with his guitar raised in tribute. There was a fizzing intensity and power to the band’s performance this evening and, while the venues acoustics may have not been up tot he standard of some of the modern arenas, it certainly did not effect the enjoyment of the enthusiastic crowd.

A rather emotive version of Beautiful had a lump in my throat and a scintillating rendition of one of my favourites, You’re Gone, had the whole hall in thrall. It’s been so long since we have been able to enjoy live music that everybody in the room was obviously enjoying themselves immensely, standing up and cheering and whistling at the end of every track.

The party was in full swing and Mr Hogarth was evidently enjoying himself as the band ran through really strong renditions of The Party, Bridge, Living With The Big Lie and Runaway, every song raising the roof even higher. Steve Rothery’s guitar playing just blows me away every time and the power and precision of Ian Mosley’s drumming has to be seen in a live setting, the man is just a machine!

Steve Hogarth is a most engaging frontman and has a very special rapport with the audience, his utter joy at being out at the front of the stage was obvious to all, no more so than when introducing Be Hard On Yourself, the first single form the forthcoming new album ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ and, according to Steve, ‘It’s going to be a belter…”.

Well, Be Hard On Yourself was an absolute belter in itself and Steve was in fine vocal form, delivering a finely tuned and stirring vocal, ably backed by Pete Trewavas, the band building in confidence as every song was performed. Fine performances of Berlin and The Release led into my favourite song of the evening, an utterly spellbinding arrangement of perennial favourite, the haunting and electrifying Neverland that closed out the set.

Of course there was going to be an encore, the crowd demanded it with their hands, voices and feet (all in a good natured fashion, of course!) and the band returned to rapturous applause to deliver a rather fantastic version of every part of The Leavers, a phenomenally compelling and powerful piece of music that always makes it mark. We weren’t happy with just that song though and, as the band left the stage again, the noise levels rose to a crescendo before we were treated to a rocking, fun, sing-along version of Garden Party that brought the house down and finished things on an ultimate high!

Nearly two years of frustration and pent up energy were released in considerable style at Hull City Hall tonight and it will be a gig that will live long in my memory, oh what a night…!

Setlist:

  1. Sounds That Can’t Be Made
  2. King
  3. Beautiful
  4. You’re Gone
  5. The Party
  6. Bridge
  7. Living With The Big Lie
  8. Runaway
  9. Be Hard On Yourself
  10. Berlin
  11. The Release
  12. Neverland

Encore:

  1. The Leavers: I. Wake Up in Music
  2. The Leavers: II. The Remainers
  3. The Leavers: III. Vapour Trails in the Sky
  4. The Leavers: IV. The Jumble of Days
  5. The Leavers: V. One Tonight

Encore 2:

  1. Garden Party

Marillion – Release Video of Lockdown Version of Made Again

We had the idea to do a ‘lockdown’ version of Made Again for you all.

Unbeknownst to us, our manager Lucy made a call (via social media) to ask fans to send in videos of themselves, in the hope of replicating the ‘Made Again Stage Invasion’ (at our Marillion Weekend in 2013) to surprise us!

Lucy and Tim Sidwell (from Toward Infinity), then came clean to us of their plan and added our ‘at home’ videos and recordings into the mix.

So here is a beautiful video of hope from around the world.

A better way of life? For sure.
We hope you all enjoy it.

We will be making announcements about our Marillion Weekends that are due in 2021 at some point next week.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.

“Like a bright new morning, Like a bright new day, I woke up from a deep sleep,

I woke up from a bad dream, To a brand new morning,

To a brand new day, Like the whole world has been made again”

h, Ian, Mark, Pete and Steve
Made Again will be released as a Charity Single over the next few weeks.

Marillion With Friends From The Orchestra – Live at The Royal Albert Hall – 18/11/19

“Marillion, that’s that band with that Fish bloke in, did that song called Kayleigh…?”

If you’re a fan of the very long career of UK progressive band Marillion then you’ll have heard that question many a time. They have made it fashionable to be unfashionable in an ever changing industry that rewards the latest thing, in fact they’ve made a successful career out of it.

So then, how is it that a band most people seem to think ceased to exist in the mid 80’s can sell out the holy grail of live venues for two nights? There’s two reasons really, first because of a fan base that revere and love them (almost obsessively, if last night was anything to go by) and, secondly, because they are a live experience that should be on your bucket list!

Having played the RAH two years ago with a six piece orchestra, Marillion have decided to reinvent some of their tracks that they feel fit especially well in that format and are releasing an album (Marillion With Friends From The Orchestra) at the end of this month.

So it made sense to go out on a UK tour to promote the album and play in venues that would give the format some stunning backdrops? Of course it did!

The evening started with a short support set of cleverly crafted singer songwriter material from the talented Harry Pane, whose short but enjoyable acoustic guitar and double bass material was warmly received by the building audience.

Harry Pane

However it was the main event that everybody had come to see and as the six piece orchestra walked on to the stage, followed by the band, the anticipation of the audience could literally be felt.

Marillion launched into an intense version of Gaza with frontman Steve Hogarth prowling the stage like a tormented soul, his on stage persona and antics are always an integral part of the band’s superb live shows.

The light show and backdrop graphics added to the intensity of proceedings as the band played a set littered with their greatest songs, twenty minute plus tracks that flew by leaving the audience at times speechless and at others rapturous and raucous, the alcohol maybe giving vent to some 50 and 60 year old fan’s long years of admiration where normally they would be more reserved.

The orchestra fitted in seamlessly with the strings bringing a euphoric feel to the somber brilliance of Estonia and lifting my all time favourite Marillion track, Season’s End, to incredible new heights, Steve Rothery’s solo bringing a lump to my throat and I’m sure I had something in my eye…

A wonderfully theatrical version of The New Kings from the band’s latest album F.E.A.R had the audience hooked on every word, engrossed as Hogarth led us through the mire of the modern world and this was followed by a brilliantly spirited Man of a Thousand Faces that had the audience singing along.

This once in a lifetime experience was finished by a two piece encore starting with a rocking take on Seperated Out with an excerpt from Led Zep’s Kashmir that even had the orchestra rocking out.

Things finally came to a close with an emotive and tumultuous version of long time fan favourite This Strange Engine that ebbed and flowed superbly for over twenty minutes before bringing the house down with heartfelt applause and adulation.

Thirty years on from when Steve Hogarth joined the band, Marillion still do things there own way. They did crowd funding before it was fashionable and they put on a live experience like no other. On nights like these they are untouchable to their fans and long may it continue. Now, who’s that Fish bloke…?

18th November 2019

Set List

  1. Gaza
  2. Power
  3. Beyond You
  4. Seasons End
  5. Estonia
  6. A Collection
  7. The New Kings Parts I – IV
  8. Man Of A Thousand Faces
  9. The Space
  10. Encore 1 – Separated Out
  11. Encore 2 – This Strange Engine

Live Review – Marillion at York Barbican 22nd April 2018 – by Progradar

“Play Seasons End, play Seasons End, please.play.Seasons.End…Fuck, they’re playing Seasons End!!”

And that, my friends, made what was already an incredible, emotive and stunning gig by one of my all time favourite bands the best gig I’ve ever been to. Yes, it was that bloody good!

Now I know I’m a lucky sod, I get to go to all sorts of live music events for free just because I write (hopefully, pretty well) about them but this was something different. I’d gone with one of my oldest friends (and a Marillion gig virgin) and we were meeting my great friend Iain Sloan of Wynntown Marshals and Abel Ganz fame (to name but two!), who had made the long journey down from North of the border, for a quiet beer or two before the show (see picture above).

York Barbican is a great venue, quite intimate while also having a very decent capacity and brilliant sound. This created a suitably intense atmosphere as the crowd built awaiting the support act Roxanne de Bastion. This talented singer/songwriter came on to a big round of applause from an already three quarters full venue.

Roxanne had broken her left ankle before the tour began but took it all in her stride as she sang her haunting and beguiling songs with more than a flavour of roots music to them. With stories garnered from personal experience she managed to keep the attention of the crowd and her voice and pared back, simple guitar and piano playing were pretty impressive. The only issue for me being that she did look slightly out place on her own in what is quite a big venue, not that this affected her performing in any way. As an appetite whetter before the main event, I was very impressed and this gifted musician is one I will be seeking out in the future.

A quick nip back to the bar to re-imbibe before the anticipated brilliance of Marillion

A dynamic and powerful opening salvo of El Dorado got the crowd going immediately and you sensed that the band were on good form as an ebullient Steve Hogarth prowled around the stage, his animated delivery a real highlight. This was immediately followed by a seriously compelling version of Power that had electricity sparking around the venue, Steve Rothery’s superb guitar playing making the hairs on the back of my neck rise, you just knew tonight was going to be a mesmerising experience.

All of the band were playing with fluidity and an almost carefree attitude, perhaps it was because it was the last night of the tour but, for me, they were putting all of their heart and soul into every note and every word.

Captivating versions of Quartz and The Party followed as the band went through their repertoire of carefully chosen tracks from over 30 years of making emotionally charged music and the adoring audience lapped it all up. It was like being in the middle of a cult but a wonderfully civilised one. There were standing ovations at the end of every track, Marillion could do no wrong tonight…

And then they played bloody Seasons End…What a spine-tingling, jaw dropping eight minutes that was, one of my favourite all time songs played by one of my all time favourite bands and with a guitar solo that soared to the heavens and was so full of emotion that I was lost in reverie. After the rapturous applause had died down Marillion delivered a thunderous performance of Living In Fear, the second track from current album ‘F.E.A.R’, one that seems to have given the band a new lease of life and attracted quite a few new followers to these veterans of the progressive scene.

The setlist took a ninety degree turn next as a band full of the confidence of a succesfull tour traded banter with the appreciative audience, Steve Hogarth asking Mark Kelly if they could swap Out of This World for a fan suggested White Paper and, to the cheers of the audience, they did! There was a real warmth and humour evident throughout the evening, the band were relaxed and obviously enjoying themselves and that came through in the performance.

A stirring rendition of The Leavers followed by Wave and Mad ramped the atmosphere through the roof, here is a band at the height of their not inconsiderable musical powers, Pete Trewavas bouncing around the stage and engaging in some gentle banter with Hogarth while Ian Mosley was an animated demon behind the drum kit, as ‘h’ would say, a bloody impressive pub band indeed!!

The set was completed by a blistering Afraid of Sunlight and a truly emotive performance of perennial fan favourite The Great Escape that surely had more than just a few eyes moist. At the end of every track virtually the whole theatre were on their feet cheering and clapping, just lost in the wonderful moment.

You know when the band leave the stage that there is going to be an encore and what an encore it was, a poignant and evocative Easter which contained possibly Rothers’ most impassioned solo ever and then a reverently received version of Sugar Mice that left the audience emotionally charged.

At this point I left, hoping to avoid the crowds but the opening notes of Garden Party had me rushing back in to the side of the stage to experience what was a group of friends enjoying themselves and playing music that they truly love, it was just magnificent!!

This time the crowd really did go wild…

So, there you have it, Marillion live at York Barbican, music really has the power to move you and bring a lasting joy to your heart and soul and, on this night, I had my most special musical epiphany ever and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

 

Marillion Release Live DVD – All One Tonight on 2nd April – Live Screenings at 6 Everyman Cinemas on 26th March

2nd March 2018 – On 2nd April Marillion release ALL ONE TONIGHT the live DVD of their Royal Albert Hall Show filmed in October 2017. On 26th March, there will be screenings of the show in 6 Everyman Cinemas across the UK. Marillion will host the screening at the Kings Cross Everyman. Tickets available from:

www.everymancinema.com/film-info/marillion-live-at-the-royal-albert-hall#scroll

On October 13 2017 Marillion played the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in their near forty year career. The show sold out in minutes, a full year before the band took to the stage at the iconic London venue. The audience, many of whom had travelled over oceans for the show, were treated to a Marillion show like no other.

In two parts, ‘All One Tonight’ firstly showcases the band’s acclaimed 2016 studio album ‘F E A R’ in full. Accompanied by an awe inspiring light show and films, Marillion perform their incisive and era defining zeitgeist with unparalleled passion and power.

The second half introduces In Praise of Folly and guests, a string quartet with flute and French horn that throughout the rest of the show inject an extra depth and emotion to some of Marillion’s best loved live material. Once again, with amazing lights and audience participation, Marillion steal the night, proving that they more than belong on the stage that has been trod by the most acclaimed musicians. Directed and edited by Tim Sidwell, recorded and mixed by Michael Hunter, ‘All One Tonight’ is a Racket Records and Toward Infinity production.

Marillion embark on their UK tour on 8th April.
FULL 2018 Tour Dates are:-

Date City Venue

Sun 8th April Belfast Ulster Hall – NEW DATE
Mon 9th April Dublin Vicar Street – NEW DATE
Wed 11th April Gateshead The Sage – last few tickets available
Fri 13th April Cambridge Corn Exchange – SOLD-OUT
Sat 14th April Birmingham Symphony Hall – SOLD-OUT
Mon 16th April Brighton Dome – last few tickets available
Tue 17th April  Bristol Colston Hall – SOLD-OUT
Thu 19th April Reading Hexagon – SOLD-OUT
Fri 20th April Liverpool Philharmonic Hall – SOLD-OUT
Sun 22nd April York Barbican – NEW DATE

 

Tickets available from myticket.co.uk, seetickets.com & venue box offices.

 

MARILLION ANNOUNCE UK TOUR DATES

Prog rock giants MARILLION announce 7 new UK dates in April 2018 on the back of their October show at The Royal Albert Hall, which sold out within four minutes of going on sale, and The London Palladium in November, which also sold out in record time.

MARILLION’S music is more than prog, it’s musically-experimental and yet-emotional. Within the genre it has a uniquely soul-baring aspect which sets the band apart and has elicited an almost religiously zealous following.  After nearly 40 years, the band has evolved into a vibrant and international musical force, flourishing seemingly outside of fashion and mainstream media exposure. Since their formation, they have had 19 Top 30 singles, four of which made the Top 10.

Their most recent album, F E A R (Fuck Everyone and Run)peaked at No. 4 in the UK album charts and No. 1 in the rock chart last year and was given a 5-star review by The Guardian.

Steve Hogarth says: “I have been part of this band now for 27 years and it barely feels like 10. I think we’re as inspired as we ever were, and we’re still enjoying creating together. Luckily our music has remained free to evolve and change without the constraints of a corporate music business which otherwise might have killed us. 

 By reinventing the business-model we have maintained a one-to-one relationship with our fans, and that feeling is never more apparent than at the live shows. It’s always a pleasure to share a room with “the family” and exchange the passion on stage with the passion off stage. 

We’re playing a few places we haven’t visited for a while. Long overdue. ‘Really looking forward to this little outing.”

MARILLION are not just musically innovative… they are widely acknowledged to be the first band to use the-now-commonplace crowdfunding scheme. Pledge Music and Oxford University have acknowledged that the band invented the business model. In the late 90s, fans sponsored an entire US tour.  Their first crowd-funded album was Anoraknophobia, released in 2001.

Winners of a staggering EIGHT Categories in 2016 Prog Mag Awards (see Notes to Editors), MARILLION elicit remarkable devotion from their international fan base.  To those who already love MARILLION, the band is something special. To the uninitiated, it’s a love affair waiting to happen.

2018 Tour Dates as follows:- 

Date                           City                                         Venue

Wed 11th April           Gateshead                            The Sage

Fri 13th April              Cambridge                            Corn Exchange

Sat 14th April              Birmingham                          Symphony Hall

Mon 16th April           Brighton                                 Dome

Tue 17th April            Bristol                                     Colston Hall

Thu 19th April            Reading                                 Hexagon

Fri 20th April              Liverpool                                Philharmonic Hall

Tickets available from myticket.co.uk, seetickets.com & venue box offices.

On October 13th, MARILLION released an EP on earMusic featuring a live version of their epic “Living In F E A R” “Living In F E A R” which hit the no. 1 spot on the physical singles chart for 2 weeks.   The EP comes in limited CD Digipak as well as in a limited and numbered 12” Vinyl Edition, which includes three additional unreleased live songs.

MARILLION are:

 Steve Hogarth – lead vocals, lyrics, keyboards, guitars, percussion

Steve Rothery – electric guitars, acoustic guitars

Pete Trewavas – Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals, Piano.

Mark Kelly – keyboards, samples and effects, backing vocals, programming

Ian Mosley – drums, percussion

Review – Marillion – F.E.A.R – by Kevin Thompson

cover

Let’s get this out of the way first, I have been a Marillion fan, since ‘Market Square Heroes’, not as fanatical as some but have every album from both eras and solo projects. I have seen them many times live and they have seen me through the highs and lows of my adult life, always there to bring wonder, amazement and comfort. I refuse to choose which era I prefer as both are in their own right part of a greater whole that make this band not only one of the greats of Progressive music, but one of the best bands I have ever heard. Pioneers of crowd-funding they created a whole new ecosystem in which to survive and prosper, where others fell to the whims of the press when the genre stumbled to the fickle fancies of the general great unwashed.

If we are to believe that life is one big cycle, everything must come around again, as in fashion and also the popularity of music. The quality of Marillion’s output and personal symbiosis with their adoring fans have carried them over a 38 year career and eighteen albums, quite often against all odds, and shown the way for others to follow. Free from the shackles of large labels and self sufficient it has enabled them to create under their own rules a beautiful distinctive sound. They have never really ‘gone away’ or ‘made a comeback’, producing consistently strong material. It is to be expected then that a band who have always been able to make social comment, (‘Easter’, ‘Season’s End’, ‘Brave’….) and are not afraid to tackle uncomfortable subjects, should go all out on the new album to try and prick the conscience of the human race and open our eyes to the mess we are making of this wonderful planet on which we have the privilege to be born.

Why is it we, who consider ourselves the ‘superior’ race continually attempt to waste all before us with greed and want, when in reality there would be plenty for all if only we would look after the world we live in and work with and not against the planet and everyone on it. Such is the constitution of man, but there is no fantasy in the fact we are pushing ourselves to destruction and there will be no happy ending if we do not change our ways, Mother Nature will have her revenge on the pretentious, foolish notions that we can control her.

live

Can the New Kings save us from ourselves through the message of music, it would be naïvely sweet to think so and the intention is sincere. Whether it does depends on you dear listener, but for myself the lyrics may serve to open my eyes, but the music opens my heart. Listening to Marillion makes me feel I want to be a better person and fills me with a warm glow. Previews and internet gossip may, erroneously lead you to believe this is decidedly different from previous albums, it’s not. What you will hear is the culmination of personal experience spread over four decades, condensed and poured like liquid gold into your ears, on what many may feel are some of the best tunes the band have ever written. All brought together on an album that dares to try and topple ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ from my ‘favourite’ spot.

Let me try and convince you a little further, are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin….

Our first story warns of  an impending dramatic change in the five piece El Dorado. The album title sung so sweet a chorus, you could almost be forgiven for mistaking the impact it aims to create. This is not flippant or irreverent comment meant to shock, rather to indicate the evil that men and women do and what it generates in humanitarian, ecological and financial terms. Ignorantly disregarding the warnings of disaster we are bringing on ourselves, the analogy of a devastating, approaching storm illustrating our shame exquisitely. What future are we creating and what legacy will we leave our children and future generations?

The next tale urges us to seek an end to wars and work to universal peace, no longer to be Living in Fear. You could be forgiven for thinking the band were trying to create a ‘Hippy’ utopia with the 60’s echoed sentiments, but in a world that that has grown increasingly bitter and violent, maybe those with flower power had something greater to offer us after all. Mocked, before their time, and over-dramatic with portents of an all too scary real life in which we now live. Who are we now to cast aspersions, seeing them as just a quirky trend in the past only makes fools of us now. An infectious chorus will dig into your consciousness, lodging there and carrying the new day message of hope, should we ignore it or join hands across the world in harmony?

live2

Almost an antithesis to Thankyou Whoever You Are from the album ‘Somewhere Else’, as a pentagonal prosopography, The Leavers is the narrative of a band and crew’s life from a behind the scenes perspective. The constraints of a life on the road, showing a more personal tale of the strain on all involved. Constantly on the move, setting up/packing up and repetitive routines. Hardly ever home and when you are, restless, never fully settled whilst something tugs at you, drawing you back to the nomadic world you have become accustomed to. The testing of relationships as you struggle to fit into the family dynamic and their daily rituals, the feeling of being an intruder. Each section of this extensive song segues into the next as the band smoothly slide between passages.

Steve Hogarth’s heartfelt vocals perfectly catch the requisite emotion for the rest of the band to feed from, creating layers of luscious strings at the fingers of Messrs Pete Trewavas  rhythmic bass and Steve Rothery’s soaring guitars, intertwining with the percussive symmetry of Ian Moseley’s drums, all laid on a quilted bed of  Mark Kelly’s delicious keys. The coherence of the the band’s music on this album has never been more tangible and a further fitting analogy as to what we could all achieve if we worked in harmony together for the common goal, in their case this beautiful thought provoking album.

The delicate piano and wistful vocals illustrate our ageing, which can creep up on us as the realisation dawns we can no longer mentally or physically do all we could or would like to. We all too soon become observers of The White Paper on which we have painted our lives. Visiting our past whilst we innocuously watch the world pass by. Bitter-sweet, verging on regretful reflection of what we lose, as the music builds  for the yearning of youth when everything was fresh and colourful, rapidly resigned to greyer shades of obscurity. Could we, should we have done more whilst we were capable?

band

What have we not unearthed in dark depth from our tales so far? Ah, yes, greed and corruption. There is no ‘need’ for some but a ‘want’ to own, take control, hold dominion over those below and less fortunate at any cost. There is always someone whose avarice will override their common sense of decency in a corrupt corporate society where power matters to The New Kings above all else. Revelling in others’ misfortunes whilst building empty steel and glass castles to their vacuous domains, in which the echoes of the titled chorus ring. Any assumed pleasantries in previous tracks are disregarded on this epitaph of the evil that men do, dispensing with the subtleties to expose the core of this world’s impropriety.

This album resonates on every level of my senses, be it my own advancing years that force me into the realisation that in my humanity I too have been guilty, on however a small scale, to some of the above at some stages in my life. Before I put my soapbox away I would like to end on this. It is not someone else to blame, it is not someone else’s fault. We are all accountable. Wake up and smell the roses, whilst they still grow. Stand up and be counted. Do not live in F.E.A.R.

 Released 23rd September 2016

Order from Marillion.com