‘What a year we’ve had” smiles a radiant Steve Hogarth, as the band close with final encore Three Minute Boy. Clearly jubilant, Marillion are going through a golden period at the moment; they played the London Palladium the night before and Prog Magazine awarded them band of the year. With a five star review in the Guardian for their album F.E.A.R. and a recent triumphant show at the Albert Hall, all things are gold in the Marillion camp at the moment. The packed ‘family’ of Marillion fans look like they want to remain, ignore the curfew and carry on singing (at times badly),but they can’t complain, this has been a set which just gives and gives.
Beginning with the most thought provoking and at times heart wrenching Eldorado suite from F.E.A.R. it climaxes with the title track, Steve Rothery’s powerful guitar chords and Hogarth screaming “You Can’t See Into My Head”. With themes of terrorism, the state of our once proud nation and world, it’s a sombre start, but is dispelled as Mark Kelly’s fluttery piano signals the intro of Slaine Mhath from their 1987 Clutching At Straws. Originally sung by Fish, Hogarth soars above Rothery’s staccato guitar and Ian Mosley’s powerful drumming on his ever expanding kit. The crowd are ecstatic.
The upbeat mood is maintained with The Uninvited Guest, an old rocker from Hogarth’s first Marillion album Seasons End. The not so unwanted ghost of Fish enters the venue again as the congregation sing their hearts out to Heart Of Lothian, from their classic album Misplaced Childhood. Wake Up In Music, one of the best moments from F.E.A.R. shimmers and shines magically as Hogarth sings about life on the road and the places they have been too. Unfortunately, the rest of the Leavers suite pulls down the momentum of the show, it still sounds cobbled together and disjointed. Mumbling ensues and we’re all Clutching At Straws wondering if they’ve ruined it, until communal singing starts again in the anthemic closer, The Leavers (One Tonight).
A noodling bass solo from the ever reliable and solid Pete Trewavas heralds the beginning of the first encore This Strange Engine, the band’s competence as musicians shines through as it twists and turns through its many complex sections and puts Hogarths voice full its more than capable paces as he sings about the story of his life.
Clearly now comfortable with their musical present and finally, their past, the old jester and original band logo materialise onto the backdrop and we’re treated to the ever quirky Garden Party from the debut album Script For A Jester’s Tear. A rollicking good romp through their first single Market Square Heroes follows, many of the crowd like myself may not have heard these old songs before. Where do they go from here, I’m not sure, but they’ve left most of the leavers on a high tonight.
Very loyal and enthusiastic, at times too much, the slightly laddish singing was a tad annoying. Most of “the family” congregated in nearby pubs and bemused Burger King staff had a brief encounter with a drunk fan attempting to sing Garden Party whilst ordering a burger post show.
It made me think..
How long will Marillion keep going for? They are playing dates next year, but better to burn out than fade away. Hogath has admitted he doen’t know if he has another album in him. If tonight was the last time I saw the band, I would be happy with that memory.