Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Taking to the stage the band are joined by a six piece ensemble for what is to be a Marillion and Friends from the Orchestra evening. If anyone thought that this would see things taking a sedate turn then those ideas were soon put aside as the band launch into a full on version of Gaza from Sounds That Can’t Be Made. This is followed by Afraid of Sunlight (one of my favorites) and Seasons End which was introduced as a song written 30 years ago about a subject that only now seems to be making the news. Estonia with an introduction telling the story of how it came to be written after a chance meeting with the sole UK survivor is as beautifully haunting as always and makes way for Hollow Man along with background projections of certain politicians – Hello Mr Gove – before the centerpiece of the main set The New Kings from last Studio album F.E.A.R. I can’t claim to have listened to FEAR more than a handful of times but on the evidence of tonight I’m inclined to go back and give it another chance. Then its The Sky above the rain leading to a finale of The Great Escape and the wonderful Falling from the Moon from Brave which contains one of my all time favorite Steve Rothery solo’s. I could have left at this point a happy man.
But if course I stayed and the first encore starts with a sumptious Fantastic Place which felt like a warm blanket of a song and finishes with a full throttle Separated Out where Steve Hogarth looks to be wearing one of Love / Hates old leather jackets. Second encore sees two songs from This Strange Engine, Man of a Thousand Faces and the title cut before we then leave into the cold and slightly wet Mancunian night.
I asked my son what he thought of the audience haircuts, mainly bald or grey was his response. At 11 he wasnt the youngest there but he was close.
Steve Hogarth did mention that the venue was far nicer than the Academy where they often play. Even if it did mean that the band are getting used to playing to a seated audience. We were thanked for being energised whilst seated.
I wonder how much the aging bones of the audience are influencing the choice of venue as even in what are quite comfortable seats the chap sat in front of me was standing to stretch his aching back at every opportunity. Ultimately we’re none of us getting any younger.
It made me think..
That teenage me saw Marillion in Manchester a long time ago on the Real to Reel tour and was tonight taking NE1 Junior to his first Marillion show. Theres not many bands where there would be zero songs crossover between the two shows even after all these years.
Also, that they really are very good at what they do.