My wife and I returned from the Marillion Convention and had a great time. In the past we’ve gone to the Montreal Convention, however Marillion decided against having one in North America this year due to the fact that they had toured NA the previous year. So it was off to merry old England to see one of our favourite bands.
We weren’t that interested in the opening bands although we did see Lonely Robot. They were really good although I wasn’t too keen on John Mitchells vocals. Sound wise, they were a little reminiscent of Porcupine Tree’s heavier material. A recommended check out if that style fits your fancy.
On to Marillion. What can I say, I’m biased but over-all, all three nights were great. The setlists which I’ll post below were probably the best ever with a great mix of old and new. Even so, I found that I didn’t get quite so emotionally involved. I think the main reason is, having seen Marillion 13 times on various tours and conventions, I’ve seen/heard most of the songs before. So the wow factor isn’t quite as high. Nevertheless, there were some unexpected tunes which were played which I really enjoyed.
The band played really well with almost no mistakes and were pretty tight. Guitarist Steve Rothery was his usual bluesy soulful self with his stand out solos in “Sounds that Can’t be Made”, “Sugar Mice”, and “This Strange Engine”. Bassist Pete Trewavas bounced around stage and continued to amaze me as to how much guitar sounding bass he plays. Vocalist Steve Hogarth was in fine vocal form and delivered lyric with passion and strength. Drummer Ian Mosley showed great restraint with regards to tempos and was probably the tightest I’ve ever heard. Keyboardist Mark Kelly spent most of the nights laying down textural atmospheres. However he proved he still was able to widdley widdley with the best of them during “Market Square Heroes”, “Incommunicado”, and “Interior Lulu”.
The sound was incredible with a healthy volume of drums, guitar and vocals. The keyboards did get lost a little in the mix but with both keys and guitar occupying the same frequencies; it can be difficult to get a great balance live.
Visually, the band had more lights and a larger screen for visuals. This made for a more encompassing experience. Most of the visual standouts were from the most recent release “F.E.A.R. with “El Dorado”, “The Leavers” and “White Paper” being excellent.
As I mentioned earlier, it was the setlists which really surprised me this time around. The first night consisted of what seemed to be a random selection, many of which were more obscure such as “One Fine Day”, “A Collection”, and “A Voice From the Past”. The opener “The Release” was a b-side and although not a favourite of mine, was still a surprise. “You’re Gone” got the crowd bopping. “Sounds that Can’t be Made” had the audience singing the guitar melody after the song had been completed. “Hard as Love” was done with H alone on piano. “Gaza” ended the first night on a powerful note.
The second night was the surprise. Many fans have mentioned that Marillion should do “Clutching at Straws” (the last album which former vocalist Fish sang on) as an album night. This night, they almost did it by playing all songs which vocalist H has sang. The surprise for me was “White Russian” which has only been performed by the band a few select times in the past. They also played a song from Misplaced Childhood, but not the ones you would’ve thought. They pulled out the rare “Lords of the Backstage” and “Blind Curve”. “Market Square Heroes” was the closer for the first set and had the audience rocking along with the band singing out “Are you following me?”
The second set was the whole of the recent album “F.E.A.R” in order, and again was great with the addition of the visuals.
The final night consisted of the whole of the Marillion.com album. Half of the songs on the album are great, the other half not my favourite. Nevertheless, all songs sounded great live. This night consisted of some guest musicians such as Praise of Folly, a string quartet which added additional textures to the songs such as “A Legacy”. Saxophonist Phil Todd played the parts to “Deserve”, “Berlin”, and “This Strange Engine”. Trumpeter Neil Yates joined in for “Deserve” and “House”.
Occasional co-lyricist, John Helmer got up and played guitar for “Tumble Down The Years”.
One of the highlights for this evening was a planned surprise for the band. A member of a Marillion Facebook group had been encouraging everyone to get finger lights which we’d all light up during the last part of “Go”. It was a success. When Hogarth sang "Wide awake at the edge of the world”, the whole venue was lit up with finger lights waving through the air.
So another great show by a great band. This has solidified my view that for North America, I believe Marillion should scrap the tours and do conventions every two years. Hopefully they’ll do Montreal again in a couple of years.
Setlist info at http://www.setlist.fm/setlists/marillion-43d6b31b.html
1st NightThe Release
The Other Half
One Fine Day
The Only Unforgivable Thing
Sounds That Can't Be Made
Hard as Love (h alone on piano)
A Collection (h with Steve Rothery on acoustic guitar )
The Answering Machine (h, Steve Rothery and Pete Trewavas)
Faith (acoustic - whole band)
A Few Words for the Dead
A Voice From the Past
The Great Escape
The Rakes Progress
2nd NightHotel Hobbies – Mainly instrumental with H singing the closing section.
Warm Wet Circles
That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)
Lords of the Backstage/Blind Curve
Market Square Heroes
Living in F E A R
The New Kings
Tomorrow’s New Country – played over P.A.
3rd NightA Legacy
Built-in Bastard Radar
Tumble Down the Years
This Strange Engine
Real Tears for Sale
The Leavers: V. One Tonight