What does it sound like?:
Like many, I’ve been snotty about Marillion. The fact is, they are a different and far, FAR better band than they were in their earliest incarnation. Steve Hogarth’s description of themselves as akin to “Radiohead and Pink Floyd in touch with its feminine side” is about right; emotionally intelligent modern progressive rock (which is what Radiohead are, albeit hipper). The first half of the concert DVD is their most recent (and excellent) album, “F.E.A.R” which goes through styles, textures, emotions, amuses, excites, and soothes in a way few albums by bands into their 4th decades do. The band are clearly top of their game in what they do, but unstarry with it. Lead singer Hogarth is a quality frontman who engages and emotes through the songs with wit and charm, and seems close to being overcome by the warmth and love the evening evoked. The second half is a selection of songs from the back catalogue played with a string section and a horn (COR!), but no “greatest hits” as such, nor anything pre-1989. It wasn’t needed, would have lowered the tone, and isn’t missed. It also looks like a million quid, which i am sure it must of cost to stage it; the blokes on the lamps must have got repetitive strain injuries from their knob-twiddling – and very good it was, too.
What does it all *mean*?
Let’s face it, “cool” is a rubbish concept used to justify emotional distance and denial of openness to what you personally like by wrongly caring about fashion and social pressure. To like Marillion is to define “uncool”, and the fans and band know it. And you know, this makes them warmer, kinder, more accepting people happy to be who they are and their pleasures. I’ve been thinking about fan bases as communities for a while, and Marillion define it. Many cult bands exist beyond the traditional music industry, and this “disruption” and “outsourcing” might actually be quite good for the artists who retain some artistic control and so please themselves and their fans more than artists who have to change according to marketing pressure. Marillion’s adoption of the Internet and crowd-sourcing was prescient. Also, progressive music as music with all sorts of music in it involving more complex themes can carry on if it keeps moving forward; the classic progressive bands were great, but are utterly ossified now, and when you think about it, their output was actually in quite a brief period, with subsequent decades producing mediocre work generally sustained by their earlier reputation. Marillion get better with time. So does Stephen Wilson. There is a lesson here.
Goes well with…
Not caring about your shape, diet, cool, what other people think, getting over yourself, tea, coffee, beer, wine, raki, a jazz-woodbine if you still do, driving (don’t watch the DVD, listen to the album), being kind and thoughtful.
Might suit people who like…
Progressive rock, Stephen Wilson, casual Radiohead fans, The Blue Nile, Sting, Todd Rundgren, even bloody Coldplay. Many Marillion songs, covered by big mainstream artists could be classics (“Pour My Love” from “Songs that Can’t be Made”, for example).