|Marillion join virtually with their fans, for a weekend of music and togetherness.|
This coming weekend, UK Rock legends Marillion will come together with thousands of fans globally, for their first, and in the own words ‘hopefully only’, Marillion Couch Convention.
“We have a rare and beautiful relationship with our fans,” says Steve Hogarth, the band’s singer. “We wanted to do something to let them know that we are with them; find a way to show our appreciation for the support they give to us and more importantly in strange times like these, each other.”
The band will broadcast their three most popular gig films on YouTube across the three nights, with support acts, introductions from the band and even a live Q&A hosted by Prog Magazine editor Jerry Ewing. The band will also be hosting virtual Q&A’s with fans, music masterclasses, a quiz, fan club meetups with band members, and even a run-along with keyboard player Mark Kelly and a cocktail class with guitarist Steve Rothery. There are opportunities to win a virtual photo with the band, virtual coffee with a band member and all sorts of other competitions, including an online dog show and prizes for the best photos from the weekend.
Lucy Jordache, the band’s manager for the last 20 years, says, “When I realised that our 2021 conventions would not be going ahead, I wanted to give our fans something that might help them experience the amazing feeling our conventions famously have. As the COVID 19 crisis deepened, it became more and more important to bring our fans together in a virtual space, where they can feel the love and support from one another and the band.”
All events over the weekend are free. The band have pre-sold merchandise (t-shirts, cushions, wine and beer glasses, banners and even confetti) to help fans get into the spirit of the event, and a rarities auction will take place over the weekend. With tough times being experienced across the globe, Marillion were keen for this to be a free event. However, an online tip jar will be live all weekend, for fans who might want to help out Marillion’s crew who have been hit hardest by the lack of live events.Hogarth adds, “We’ve been completely amazed by the response of our fans to the idea of the Couch Convention and the merchandise we created for it. We sincerely thank them for their continuing love and support and hope to see them out on the road soon.”
Marillion are a British rock band with a successful 40-year history. Their last studio Album F E A R, debuted at number 4 in the UK Album Charts, claiming a top 20 slot in many European countries and charting across the world including the United States.
The band are known for their uniquely close relationship with their fans, and are widely attributed with reinventing the way bands work commercially, including the revolutionary crowdfunding of their 2000 album Anoraknophobia.
Marillion held their first global convention in April 2002. And now play Marillion Weekends all over the world including their bi-annual hiring of Center Parcs in Holland where they play to over 3000 fans from over 50 countries.
Marillion Couch Convention 2020, 4th, 5th & 6th September 2020More information at: https://www.marillionweekend.com/athome/main/whatson.html
Today sees Leo Trimming helping Progradar ‘catching up’ with the most recent deluxe edition re-release before the imminent deluxe edition of ‘Script for a Jester’s Tear’ in April!
Marillion’s great series of re-releases in Deluxe editions continues with ‘Afraid of Sunlight’, first released in 1995. This was the last album Marillion made for EMI, but what a way to bow out as it’s one of the highlights of their career. Indeed with the previous album , the magnificent and chilling ‘Brave’, the mid 90’s could be regarded as one of the greatest peaks in their whole career… and yet it was born in a difficult period for the band .
To put this album in context Marillion had been with EMI records since 1982 and had achieved considerable commercial success in the mid – late 80’s with Fish, including a string of hit singles and albums around the world. The transition to new singer Steve Hogarth was inevitably quite tricky. Their first Hogarth era album , ‘Season’s End’, had been high in quality, but it had not really resulted in quite the commercial success for which EMI was hoping. Follow up album ‘Holidays in Eden’ , perhaps under pressure from the label, had clearly been intended to sound a little more mainstream and ‘pop’. However, Marillion simply were not having the same sort of chart success that they had enjoyed in the 80’s, and the pressure was mounting. What did Marillion do then? Perhaps typically for this band they did what they felt was true to them and did exactly what they wanted to do, not what others wanted of them. They withdrew to a French chateau studio and spent many months creating one of the artistic highlights of their career in the long form fully segued concept album ‘Brave’… one can only imagine what EMI thought when hearing a concept album, which was late and over budget, focusing on a strange tale of abuse and suicide – ‘Lavender’ and ‘Kayleigh’ it ain’t!
By 1995 relations with EMI were very strained. In the excellent booklet packaging which houses this 4 CD & 1 Blu-Ray release, packed with great artwork and interesting pieces about the album, Hogarth reveals that their manager told them:
“EMI didn’t want another record after ‘Brave’, but he’d persuaded them to do one more if we could do it quickly and cheaply and that was ‘Sunlight’ and that’s why we even wrote, partly in jest, on the sleeve, this album was ‘knocked out’… I think it’s a great record, but after that we were gone.”
For an album that was apparently ‘knocked out’ in 3 months (which is remarkably brief in the context of their recording history) there is no sense when hearing it that it’s substandard or feels ‘rushed’. It seems at that point in their career whether an album took 18 months or 3 months Marillion could produce the goods. So what makes this an album revisiting or investing in 25 years later?
There will be two sorts of punters considering this album – those that have bought it previously and are interested in the musical ‘extras’, the remastered sound, and the packaging. There will be others who may be discovering Marillion belatedly, perhaps after the great success of their most recent 2016 album ‘F.E.A.R.’, who may know nothing about this album and wonder whether it’s worth buying?
The short answer is ‘YES’ – this album is simply one of the best albums the band have ever released. However, such punters may need a little more information to help decide whether to invest so we will try to go through the album for new listeners.
‘Gazpacho’ opens with sound clips of an MC introducing a World Heavyweight Boxing championship bout, and then a quote seemingly from John Lennon (but may actually be actor Bernard Hill who voiced Lennon for a documentary) ‘… I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete’. This immediately sets the scene for an album which touches on the destructive nature of stardom with references through the album to figures such as ‘Raging Bull’ Jake La Motta, Mike Tyson and O.J Simpson. This also reflects the struggles Hogarth was having in dealing with the trappings of being plunged right into the limelight as the front man with a successful Rock band – before being called to sing for Marillion he has shared he had seriously been contemplating giving up music and becoming a milkman – quite a contrast and change in his life.
The track ‘Gazpacho’ darkly refers to stains on a Versace scarf, which may have been blood stains or ‘were they really just Gazpacho’. In a period in which blood stains were central to the notorious OJ Simpson murder case the reference is clear. This is a song which rides along on a fat juicy bass line from Pete Trewavas and a rock solid beat from Ian Moseley. Rothery takes up a sprightly melody on guitar and Mark Kelly’s keyboards fill out a surging, almost joyful theme – a strange contrast to the dark subject matter. Halfway through the song a darker force takes hold as the volume recedes to a strumming guitar initially and more sinister tones reflects the fall and anguish of the main ‘hero’.
Hogarth’s voice here is in spectacular form, rising and rising with emotion, before the song returns briefly to the theme and feel of the opening section. The extended conclusion to the song becomes more impressionistic with chiming guitars, staccato drums and garbled phrasing from Hogarth. Backed by Kelly’s keys the song fades away behind the news footage of the famous televised ‘slow chase’ of O.J Simpson’s car on the freeway… and that’s just the first song! Don’t worry – we won’t go into such detail on all the songs, but it was worth focusing on the subtlety and imagination of a band contrasting musical and lyrical themes, gradually descending from the ‘glam’ of the opening section into much darker, denser themes reflecting the fall of the protagonist.
Cannibal Surf Babe is pure acid Beach Boys powered by a fantastic bass line (Trewavas appears to have been on fire on this album) and thumping drums (taken from the first take and never bettered, according to Moseley). Kelly’s playful, quirky keyboards spray psychedelic sounds all over the song, and you can hear exactly why the working title was ‘X Ray Jangly’ . The weirdness of The Beach Boys’ genius Brian Wilson permeates the bizarre lyrics (partly contributed by John Helmer who helped write the lyrics for the majority of the album) which Hogarth sings with maniacal glee:
‘I was born in nineteen sixty weird, I’m your nightmare surfer babe, Mr. Wilson where’s your sandbox and your beard…’
The piece trails away with a subtle synth line, which had been part of a song called ‘Icon’ that did not make the album), with a French woman dreamily saying the concluding lyrics of the song in French. This segues into Beautiful, the only single released from the album, reaching number 29 in the UK charts. The album booklet reveals that this song was their response to a request from EMI label boss for them to do their own spin on a song like ‘Cry me a River’ (!!) – whatever the inspiration, it’s a lush, rolling rock ballad with a band in perfect sync creating a suitably ‘Beautiful’ song with touching lyrics, and a gorgeous Hammond organ from Kelly in the conclusion.
‘Afraid of Sunrise’ literally shimmers in plaintively like some sort of mirage in an understated manner with Rothery’s acoustic guitar, subtle bass and very light drumming beneath a soft synth line. Hogarth sings with great delicacy but feeling over this lovely setting. It’s easy to hear why the working title for this song was ‘Joni Mitchell’. Surreal lyrics are open to interpretation but could refer to a journey and the feelings of a driver anticipating a downfall when the next day dawns. The ‘Day-Glo Jesus on the dash’ line led to a disagreement in the band about the original album artwork.
Carl Glover had prepared the startling ‘Day-Glo Jesus’ image, which Hogarth wanted as the cover, but this was vetoed by the rest of the band, fearing it may present them as a Christian rock band. Well, it seems the band have finally seen the wisdom of Hogarth’s judgement and this re-release features the ‘Day-Glo Jesus’ in glorious technicolour as the cover image, replacing the peculiar ‘Angel Boy’ image hurriedly used for the original cover. Another curiosity about this song is that in essence it has the same musical roots as Afraid of Sunlight. The band had created both versions, and were considering cutting one. They had even considered trying to merge them together, but in the end they made the wise decision to retain them both separately as they have undoubted quality in either manifestation.
Ill-fated British water speed hero of the 1960’s, Donald Campbell, inspired one of the highlights of the album, the evocative ‘Out of this World.’ This song is deceptively complex with three distinct phases touching on this tragedy from the emotional perspective of Campbell’s wife watching on as her speed obsessed husband killed himself pursuing his dream. Hogarth’s vague childhood memories of this famous accident are transformed from a straight narrative in to a piece revealing mixed emotions for the on looking wife. Reportedly Campbell and his wife were virtually estranged by the time of the accident such was the division caused by his obsession for speed.
The song seemingly slowly emerges from the deep with subtle guitar chimes and drums over a watery synth backing leading into Hogarth’s mournful vocals. The second phase of the piece comes after the lines ‘At such speeds, things fly’ as the song surfaces with a majestic airborne guitar solo from Rothery. ‘Out of this World’ settles its trajectory with plaintive lyrics filled with pain, Hogarth’s soulful vocals intoning ‘Only Love with Turn you Round’ repeatedly (inspired from a line in ‘Brave’ album song ‘Runaway’). This presages the third tragic phase with contemporary speech clips stating ‘Complete accident, I’m afraid…’ over a baleful synth wash acting as a stark canvas for Hogarth’s final pure elegiac vocals and there is a real sense of sinking into the depths.
It’s a remarkable and deceptively complex song showing Marillion’s ability to look at a subject from interesting and emotion filled angles – in the hands of lesser artists this would have been a straight narrative about a famous accident, but this piece transcends that story, imbued with pain and feeling. Somewhat amazingly it was hearing this song which inspired marine engineer Bill Smith to organize the project to raise the ‘Bluebird’ vessel from the depths of Coniston Water in 2001, and led to Hogarth singing the song at Donald Campbell’s funeral – peculiar what art can inspire sometimes.What can I say about ‘Afraid of Sunlight’? It’s undoubtedly one of the best songs the band have ever produced. It oozes with class and depth of feeling.
An eerie guitar line intros a haunting piano and a gentle drum pattern and soft bass… and then Steve Hogarth sings with such resonance and delicacy. It’s a truly heart breaking beginning. The meaning is obscure, but may be about the conflicted feelings of a couple unable to tell the truth to each other. They are together but in pain, perhaps lying in bed fearing what will happen in the morning – the possible implication that in the morning one of them drives away from the other… well, that’s one interpretation but great art can be interpreted in different and many different personal ways by the recipient.
The tempo and power rises magnificently with Trewavas’ bass line pulling it all together with the impactful, memorable chorus, before briefly receding again with a more reflective passage. The chorus returns and the song becomes darker and more bitter, Hogarth’s vocals reaching a great crescendo ‘It’s a matter of time’. Mark Kelly’s rising keyboards take on the melody fluidly, whilst underpinning it all along is Moseley’s rock solid rhythm.
Rothery unusually is not to the fore on this song largely but he then adds another emotional level with a subtle guitar line interweaving the emotional musical maelstrom… and then bereft the song falls to it’s knees with a coda that is drenched with feeling. Kelly’s delicate piano and synth perfectly framing Hogarth’s crystalline and ultimately falsetto vocal. I may not know exactly what it literally means but I can certainly feel so much hearing the highs and lows of this stunning song.
‘Beyond You’ is a song which showcases the significant impact producer Dave Meegan had on Marillion’s material as he recorded their sessions and jams, and helped the band build on those moments to form great songs. Meegan felt the song had a sort of Motown vibe so after the sonorous and restrained opening synth led section he suggested a Phil Spector type ‘Wall of Sound’ feel, which erupts in the refrain ‘If I was a child…’. Moseley’s echoing resonant drums swing and pizzicato keyboard strings take us right back to Detroit, before the song sinks back into Hogarth’s heartfelt tones.
The finale returns us to Spector territory featuring a fine slide guitar floating above the main melody before the whole thing fades away sadly. This is an intensely personal lyric for the singer reflecting turmoil in his own private life to the extent that he felt unable to sing it for years… it is also the song I struggled to get my head around for years with it’s juxtaposition between the clearly very emotional lyric and the almost jaunty refrains, until I realised the connection with Motown. We all know Motown artists were the masters at contrasting heartbreak with upbeat music so it fits.
This remarkable album concludes with the startling opening guitar and synth fanfare chords of the momentous ‘King’ before a melange of various voice clips about fallen heroes, particularly Elvis, Lennon and most notably Kurt Cobain who committed suicide in 1994. Marillion were the first band to play after his suicide on the Munich stage where Nirvana played their final show, which inspired the band to write this sonic and emotional powerhouse of a song. Rothery’s guitar sets up the melody supported by softly jangling percussion and understated keyboard, underpinned as ever with Trewavas finely judged bass.
Hogarth sensitively sings about the ruinous effects of fame: ‘To be cursed with your Dreams’. The song almost literally explodes with the whole band titanically pounding out the main rhythm and Kelly’s synth eerily writhes above the melee. After a brief respite the song descends in to a disturbing and dark spiral with a wildly discordant guitar from Rothery tortuously screaming out pain. The lynch pin keyboards of Kelly return gently under Hogarth’s fragile words leading into some weirdly distorted spidery guitar. The tension and power gradually rises as Hogarth bellows out the inner pain of the main protagonist. Kelly’s building keyboards leads a headlong crash for the whole band in a chaotic, deafening conclusion which sounds absolutely MASSIVE! Tragedy never sounded so powerful…
… hopefully that will help convince new listeners to ‘catch up’ with one of the finest rock albums of the 1990’s (and was named one of the ‘Recordings of the Year’ by ‘Q’ music magazine in 1995).
What about those that already have this album? Is it worth shelling out for it again?
Well, the short answer (again!) is YES!
The presentation of this album alone is worth getting it again, housed in an impressive book design with beautiful artwork images from graphic designer Carl Glover and fascinating insights in to the album and it’s creation in the accompanying various essays, including one from Bill Smith about his search for the ‘Bluebird’ inspired by ‘Out of this World.’
Musically, the package includes the original 1995 Dave Meegan mix. Michael Hunter has remixed this deluxe edition version, but in all honesty I am hard pressed to identify any startling differences from Meegan’s original mix. This is testament to Meegan’s original fine production work, acting as ‘Marillion’s George Martin’ in pulling it all together and making it sound wonderful. ‘Out of this World’ is probably the song in which there is the most notable changes to the original – Hunter’s mix brings out different elements – it’s a fine mix, but ‘different’ rather than ‘better’. For an album recorded with decent 1990’s musical technology there is not quite the same scope for sonic improvements heard more clearly in modern remasters and remixes of earlier vintage 1970’s albums by other artists. Nevertheless, Hunter has done a fine job on the latest version.
This re-release also features the complete performance from the ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ tour show at the Ahoy in the Netherlands in 1995. Some of these songs have previously been released on their swansong EMI album, the live double album ‘Made Again’ released in 1996, which mixed songs from a few tours. It is great to hear this whole concert which features fine renditions of 5 of the 8 ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ songs, particularly an enormous sounding ‘King’, as well as the ‘Icon’ intro in to ‘Beautiful’. It is also interesting to hear Hogarth pulling off excellent interpretations of 7 songs from the ‘Fish era’. However, my personal highlights are the ever resplendent ‘Easter’, and the suite of songs drawn from the ‘Brave’ album, especially Kelly’s stunning organ work on ‘Hard as Love’ with the whole band locked and loaded, thundering along magnificently – let’s face it, you cannot go wrong with Marillion live!
The Blu-ray with this package features beautifully produced surround sound 5.1 versions, which displays Hunter’s skill as a producer but underlies the imagination and skill of a band who can so perfectly combine delicate emotion with passages of great drama and power. If you have the technology the 5.1 version alone is also worth getting this edition.
Additionally this disc has bonus tracks originally available on the 1999 remaster. Whilst the main album is one of the band’s highlights it has to be said that these bonus tracks are somewhat lacking in quality, and include 2 earlier versions of ‘Beautiful’ with other titles. ‘Mirage’ has some interest and the acoustic demo of ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ is rather a gem, but on the whole these extra tracks are hardly essential. Similarly, the ‘Jams and Early Versions’ are curiosities which lay bare the creative processes as the band jams new ideas for Dave Meegan to capture. They are raw pieces and are interesting to hear, but it is doubtful that anyone apart from ‘Uber Fans’ will ever listen to these tracks more than a couple of times at most… but as we know Marillion are not short of ‘Uber Fans’!!
Conversely, what is of far more interest on the Blu-ray is the 45 minute documentary film which features all the band members with fascinating insights in to how the band felt at the time when recording this album. What is clear is the unshakeable faith Marillion had in themselves as artists, even if their label were losing faith in them. History has shown that Marillion were right to retain that faith as they survived some dark days in the later 90’s to virtually create the crowd funding model and thrive. More crucially they continued to make high class albums borne out of their innate self-confidence, musical imagination and artistic integrity. The mid-90’s period produced two of their finest ever albums… and this special set presents ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ perfectly.
CD One – Afraid of Sunlight (2019 Michael Hunter Re-Mix)
- Cannibal Surf Babe
- Afraid of Sunrise
- Out of this World
- Afraid of Sunlight
- Beyond You
CD Two – Afraid of Sunlight (Dave Meegan Original Mix 1995 Mix)
(Same Track Listing as CD One)
CD Three – Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam (29th September 1995) (Part 1)
- Intro (Skater’s Waltz
- Hooks in You
- Hotel Hobbies
- White Russian
- The Opium Den
- Hard as Love
- The Hollow Man
CD Four – Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam (29th September 1995) (Part 2)
- Afraid of Sunlight
- Cannibal Surf Babe
- Cover My Eyes
- Slainte Mhath
- Splintering Heart
- No-One Can
- The Great Escape
- Uninvited Guest
- Garden Party
Afraid of Sunlight (2019 Michael Hunter Remix) – 5.1 Audio Version:
- Same Track listing as CD
Afraid of Sunlight (Jams & Early Versions):
- Ascending Synth Groove
- Velvet Lawn
- Building Guitar
- Band of Gold
- Gazpacho (Early Version)
- Surfer Bass
- Cannibal Surf (Early Version)
- Beautiful (Early Version)
- KD Lang
- Out of this World (Early Version)
- Afraid of Sunlight (Early Version)
- Beyond You (Early Version)
- Crunchy Guitar Idea
- Deep Purple Vibe
- Watery Guitar
- King (Early Version)
- Happy Accidents
Documentary Film – Afraid of Sunlight (Approv 45 Mins)
Promo Film – Beautiful
1999 Remaster Bonus Tracks
- Live Forever
- Second Chance
- Beyond You (Demo)
- Cannibal Surf Babe
- Out of this World
- Bass Frenzy
- Mirages (Demo)
- Afraid of Sunlight (Acoustic Demo)
Steve Rothery – Guitars
Pete Trewavas – Bass
Steve Hogarth – Voice
Mark Kelly – Keyboardsm
Ian Moseley – Drums & Percussion
Hannah Stobart – Backing Vocals on ‘Beautiful’
Wendy Paige & Barbara Lezmy – Backing Vocals on ‘Cannibal Surf Babe’
Progradar would like to thank Fraser Marshall of the website:
‘Marillion – Explanations of Song Elements’ for his permission to refer to his blog about some of the background to the songs.
Other information is available at:
“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.
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
- Beyond You
- Seasons End
- A Collection
- The New Kings Parts I – IV
- Man Of A Thousand Faces
- The Space
- Encore 1 – Separated Out
- Encore 2 – This Strange Engine
Marillion have announced that they will return to the road in the UK and Europe in 2019 with an extended line up of musicians joining the band.
The shows will feature the In Praise of Folly String Quartet plus Sam Morris on French Horn and Emma Halnan on Flute, featured on select numbers throughout the show as on previous occasions. In December 2017, Marillion played a sold-out show at The Royal Albert Hall which was the fastest selling concert of the bands career and featured this same ensemble of musicians who also featured on the UK tour in the spring of 2018. The concert at the Royal Albert hall was hailed by the fans and critics alike as “one of the best concerts in Marillion’s history”. The recording of the show, ‘All One Tonight’ has since been released on DVD, Blu-Ray, CD and vinyl and topped the charts in 5 countries. Marillion will be playing songs spanning their 14 album-career with Steve Hogarth, as 2019 celebrates 30 years of him joining the band.
“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.
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:
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.
Date City Venue
MARILLION have added 3 NEW DATES to their almost sold-out tour in April 2018.
Tickets for the shows in Belfast, Dublin and York go on sale on Friday, 26th January and fans of the prog giants should grab these tickets fast, as Marillion’s recent show at The Royal Albert Hall, sold out in just four minutes.
After nearly 40 years, Marillion have evolved into a vibrant and international musical force, flourishing seemingly outside of fashion and mainstream media exposure. And they are still as popular as ever – 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 yet we’re as inspired as we ever were and 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!. He continues, We’re really looking forward to this little outing, especially as we’re playing a few places we haven’t visited for a while. It’s long overdue!
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.
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
FESTIVAL WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE WORLD’S BEST PROGRESSIVE BANDS COMPLETES THIS YEAR’S LINE-UP WITH THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, LEPROUS & JARDÍN DE LA CROIX.
30th June – 1nd JULY 2017 – BARCELONA
Since its inception in 2014 the Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend has played host to the likes of Opeth, Steven Wilson, Anathema, Devin Townsend, TesseracT, The Pineapple Thief, Magma, Agent Fresco, Camel, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Riverside, Ihsahn and Alcest.
Taking place in the beautiful open air surroundings of Poble Espanyol – a huge stone built architectural museum – the site is one of the most important and striking landmarks of tourism in Barcelona. Whilst by day the Catalonian hotspot may play host to some of Barcelona’s most interesting historical articles, by the end of June to the start of July it will instead play host to some of the world’s finest progressive bands. Last year saw the festival co-headlined by Steven Wilson and fellow progressive heavy weights Opeth.
So far for 2017 Be Prog! My Friend have announced legendary headliners Jethro Tull and Marillion alongside Norwegian music collective Ulver, Anathema, Animals as Leaders, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress and Caligula’s Horse.
Now Be Prog! My Friend’s line-up for this year is complete with the addition of the Devin Townsend Project, Leprous and Spain’s Jardín de la Croix.
Devin Townsend returns to Be Prog! My Friend for an exclusive performance of his 1997 album ‘Ocean Machine: Biomech’ in full to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Devin himself describes ‘Ocean Machine’ as ‘a labor of love that was born more out of adversity than almost anything else. I’m very proud of this album, and has a very obvious ‘blue’ feeling to me’
Joining Devin will be one of the best progressive metal acts in the world, Leprous. The festival organisers comment: ‘we were stunned by their technical genius, the absorbing personality of frontman Einar and their almighty live shows’. At Be Prog! My Friend their performance will be a ‘By Request’ show, where all fans of Leprous can vote. The songs with the most votes will be played at the festival.
The final band that completes the line-up for Be Prog! My Friend 2017 is Jardín de la Croix described by the festival as ‘one of the most beloved bands in the Spanish rock scene at the moment. With their excellent live shows they are definitely one of the best instrumental rock bands in Spain at the moment. We proudly welcome them to the festival and hope you enjoy Jardín de la Croix with us!’
The complete line-up for Be Prog! My Friend 2017:
JETHRO TULL / MARILLION
MIKE PORTNOY’S SHATTERED FORTRESS / ANATHEMA / THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT / ULVER / ANIMALS AS LEADERS / LEPROUS / CALIGULA’S HORSE / JARDÍN DE LA CROIX
Tickets are on sale now at the fixed price of 130 Euros:
Press for Be Prog! My Friend festival 2016:
‘And so Prog finds itself in love with Barcelona, the delightful weather and everything that Be Prog! My Friend has to offer’ – Prog Magazine
‘The leading festival for progressive music in Spain, showcased avant-garde music in a magnificent location’ – The Independent
‘Set in the hazy sunlit square of Barcelona’s historic and quite stunning Poble Espanyol, it certainly beats the sodden mud of the British festival season’ – Total Guitar Magazine
‘If nothing else, it proves that prog is alive and kicking. Especially in Catalonia’ – Classic Rock Magazine
Be Prog! My Friend takes place in the heart of Barcelona and with an airport only 12km away, regular, cheap flights make it an easy festival to get and from the UK. Bands will start playing from mid/late afternoon each day which will also mean visitors have plenty of time to explore the stunning city of Barcelona while they are there.
Exclusive hotel deals for Be Prog! My Friend attendees are available here:
Anderson/Stolt – Invention of Knowledge
Expansive and spiritual in the vein of Tales From Topographic Oceans, this album–like all things Yes these days–has sharply divided the prog world’s opinions. And everyone’s got an opinion on this thing. Well, I’m firmly in the camp that Jon Anderson, Roine Stolt, and Co. have gifted us with a masterpiece. The album is a singular experience, a meditative exercise in four movements. The unrelenting positivity might sound out of place for these dark days, but it’s nonetheless needed. Strong contender for album of the year, for those with ears to hear.
Big Big Train – Folklore
Big Big Train keep adding members, and with each addition they get a little–scrap that, they get A LOT–better. I think they’ve hit on a perfect line-up, because they’ve just released a perfect album. They continue here with themes of the English countryside and fading cultural artifacts, rocking a ‘pastoral prog’ approach that owes a lot to Selling England By The Pound and Wind & Wuthering. Be sure to listen to the extended version as released on vinyl and hi-res download.
Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
Donald Glover and Ludwig Göransson deliver the funk with plenty of 70’s heart and…well, y’know. There’s lots of organic percussion, fat synths and keys, deep grooves, and vocal effects to fill out the tracks. Childish Gambino keeps things varied here, but centered on those 70’s funk tropes, and somehow manage to inhabit rather than merely imitate. If Prince had released this album in the last few years, it would have been hailed as a renaissance and return to form.
Ben Craven – Last Chance To Hear
Great & Terrible Potions is quite an album to follow up, but Ben Craven has managed it with Last Chance To Hear. Loosely a concept album about the end of the music industry as we’ve known it, this album features William Shatner, prog-a-billy, a spot-on James Bond theme, and even a lovely piano elegy. It’s also a contender for best album art and packaging, with gorgeous designs by Freyja Dean. Cinematic, progressive, singer-songwriter with lush production.
The Fringe – The Fringe
Nick D’Virgilio, Jonas Reingold, Randy McStine. I was sold on the first two names alone, and I wish I had known about the third sooner. Perhaps the album I’ve listened to the most this year, The Fringe incorporates the more alternative rock side of prog into a garage band ethos with my pick for the best production work of the year. The album is stacked with deep grooves, vocal harmonies, and guitar solos. The Fringe are too good to remain a side-project, so here’s hoping that we hear more, and soon.
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Prog has always been a Populist musical venture, however strange that may sound these days. Why shouldn’t pop be progressive, anyway? The latest from Frost* is the most modern-sounding album of the year; it’s ahead of its time, really. All pop music will sound like this in ten years (we can hope). Hooky, layered, accessible, rich, and emotional–it suits a wide range of musical needs.
Steve Hindalong – The Warbler
Incorporating elements of his work with The Choir, The Lost Dogs, and his previous solo album, Steve Hindalong turns in another batch of so very human songs. His descriptive lyrics are so mundane–that is, they essentially capture the mundanity of everyday life–that they bypass our receptors for aesthetic filigree and hit straight at the heart. It’s not unusual for a song to prompt tears, chuckles, and tears again in the course of a verse and chorus. Essentially a singer-songwriter album, the rich production frames the lyrics while never obscuring them. Don’t let the religious backdrop scare you away; this is less of a ‘Christian’ album than what Neal Morse was writing before he was a Christian, and it captures themes of friendship and everyday existence so very well.
Marillion – F.E.A.R
Wow. Of course I want my Prog to be beautiful, grandiose, immersive, but to get one that’s also so…so important? If I were ranking albums, this would have to be #1, and I’ll happily listen to it twice for every person who’s turned off by the message. Political prog at it’s finest, and Mark Kelly is going to win an award for his keys on this album, right
Muriah Rose – Beneath The Clay
Muriah Rose hits the ground running with this gorgeous debut, comprising folk, country, Americana, and singer-songwriter forms recalling The Carter Family, Julie Miller, and The Byrds. Beneath The Clay is Appalachian music through and through, not only musically but thematically and emotionally. Her husband, Bill Mallonee, holds down the rhythm section and adds textured guitar, but Muriah’s voice and lyrics stand front and center in the spotlight, where they belong.
Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
Continuing in the vein of Sky Blue but with some Ocean Machine thrown in for good measure, Transcendence finds Devin Townsend working the “emotional mid-tempo rock” thing the DTP have perfected over the last several years, except that here they perfect it even a little more. While I’d love to hear more of Anneke Van Giersbergen’s vocals, the decision to lean on her vocals a little less really brings Dave Young’s guitar and Mike St-Jean’s keys more to the forefront. It’s not just marketing, folks: this album sounds less like a Project and more like a band effort. Nolly’s mixing and production also add some breathing room to Devy’s typically dense arrangements. It’s heavy, proggy, inspirational, and good.