Marillion is a band which brings a lot of childhood memories with them. I remember my dad listening to their music like all the time (well that's the way it seemed back then...). I have fond memories about their music and, though it isn't really my taste of music, I have always respected the band and liked their music. There was just one problem...I only knew their music with Fish as their frontman. Of course I heard some flashes from my dad's stereo, but that was it. I'm glad that I brought with me a Marillion fan and follower, namely.....my dad. He even told me that Steven Hogarth is an even better singer than Fish. My curiosity was tickled....
The band started with an excerpt from Brave. The one thing that I noticed right away was the crystal clear sound. I don't exaggerate when I say that this is the best sound I have heard ever when visiting a concert! I really have to give a big compliment to the people who were responsible for the sound. Every instrument could be heard to the perfection. Of course this brings a huge challenge for the musicians, because with such a great sound every mistake will be heard!
I just can say one thing regarding this matter and that's that the musicians played flawless. Steve Hogarth was very active and communicative with the public. He brought that typical British humour to the table and it was a delight to see a frontman having so much fun. I normally go to metalconcerts and with those concerts normally the frontman is a tormented or angry man and when you are lucky he's also sarcastic to the bone. Quite refreshing....One line that really brought a big smile on my face is Steve's comparison of Marillion's music and art. He said that Marillion wasn't just a progressive rock band, that was an insult, they are much better than that....They were art. Of course he said everything with a big smile and in a way that he expressed that you shouldn't take it all too seriously.
Marillion's concert was the first of their Christmas tour and they played the concert in two parts. Steve said that the first part was the gloomy and depressing part and the second part was rockier but still depressing part. Of course this statement brought a lot of laughter with it. Besides Steve's podium antics (which really was a lust for the eye), it became soon very clear for me, that Steve Rothery was one hell of a guitar player. I don't want to downgrade the play of Mark, Ian and Peter, because they were great too, but Steve was on another level. Really phenomenal guitar play!
The first part consisted of a bit longer songs and songs of the more progressive kind. Although I am more into the straight forward rock 'n roll tunes, this really struck me. Something I didn't expect when I entered the venue. They also played a new song from their upcoming fifteenth (!!!) album. Of course I asked the Marillion fan what his thoughts were on this song. Well my dad kept it brief....It sounded like a clock!
After the break Marillion came back rocking and how can you do it better with one of your shorter and rockier songs, namely 'Hooked In You'. What followed was again a great performance, though I preferred the first part of the show. After this part they came back for an encore in which they played two songs. Especially when they played 'Neverland' the crowd went crazy. Clearly a song a lot of people wanted to hear. It's a really epic song, for my liking maybe a bit too long, but hey I'm no prog-head!
They left the stage after this song and a lot of fans thought that this was the end of the show. The roadies put a white Christmas tree on stage and the lights went out again. Clearly Marillion wasn't finished yet! Only Pete and Mark entered the stage and threw whistles into the audience. The fans needed to whistle some kind of tune and when Pete and Mark were satisfied with the performance of the fans suddenly Steve Hogarth showed up in a Santa Claus costume. Out of nowhere a fan started to sing "Zie ginds komt de stoomboot" (for you non-Dutch readers, this is a children verse which is sung when we Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas, a celebration reminiscent to a Santa Claus celebration, though not completely the same). The whole crowd began to sing along and the band really was awe struck, because of course they were not familiar with the tune. They really enjoyed it and Steve Hogarth even wanted the fans to sing it again! After this comical intermezzo, Marillion played a Christmas tune and there were fake-snow blowers, which made everything even more comical.
What can I say? I enjoyed it big time (see my top three concerts this year. Marillion even topped one of my all-time favourites Megadeth....). The sound was superb and I have seen some great musicians who had a great time with the fans and with each other. Great concert!
I also want to thank Demondust and Lucy Jordache for making this possible.