Marillion – 21st November 2021
Birmingham Symphony Hall
In these troubled and desperate times, if somebody had told me there was a guy banging a dustbin lid with a tambourine in the next street, I’d have been there in a flash……we SO need to support live music, more than ever !! Marillion on tour – it was a no-brainer……
With so many gigs and venues still struggling and rescheduling, once again Marillion have paved the way by crowd funding insurance in the event they had to pull out due to enforced Covid restrictions and man has it paid off, raising in excess of £100k !!!
I reckon it’s safe to say that these guys have a very loyal and supportive fanbase and with a brand new album on the way in 2022, Team Marillion are forging ahead despite the shit ‘n strife we’ve endured these past few years, so a HUGE welcome back was very much in order on this breezy night in Brum.
No backstage passes, no meet ‘n greets, but hey – it was a gig, it was live and it was MARILLION. Playing to a virtually sold out Symphony Hall, I reckon they could have come on stage and played the dustbin lid borrowed from our previously mentioned erstwhile friend accompanied with a washboard and ukulele (you needed to have been there LOL) and the assembled Church Of Marillion would have welcomed the guys like soldiers returning home from the front-line, a true heroes welcome.
With support from Mick Moss (Antimatter) and then a short break, the lads took to the stage at 8.30pm prompt and went on to play for a tad over two hours (including two encores).
Steve Hogarth, ever the dynamic front-man, was a witty and pretty as ever and with a voice that has in no way been degraded by the ravages of time, led the band through some classic tunes from the band’s immense and impressive back catalogue – Opening with the title track from their 2012 alum “Sounds That Can’t Be Made” (has it really been nearly TEN YEARS ???). Nice to hear a good selection from “Brave” (including the final song of the evening – “Made Again” which, I thought, was a rather subdued and strange choice to bring the show to a close), “Afraid Of Sunlight”, “Marbles” and even “Season’s End” !! – Mini epic “The Leavers” from “F.E.A.R.” formed part of the first encore and overall, a very interesting setlist and we even had a track from the forthcoming album “Be Hard On Yourself”.
Rothery stands immobile on the right of the stage, but guitar work that soars with emotion…he may not come across as the classic posing and strutting axeman, but VERY MUCH an exercise in restraint that fits the mood and style of one of the most revered guitarists in Prog. Pete Trewavas is probably the most buoyant band member, bopping along with bass, acoustic guitar and backing vocals and plainly enjoying every second and, I suspect, just glad to be back playing LIVE. Tucked away and hidden behind a huge drum kit and Perspex screen, Ian Moseley provided a solid rhythm to complement Pete’s pounding basslines. Mark Kelly, I felt, was maybe a tad restrained, but I suggest this may have been down to the setlist – no twiddly bits and extended solos, just solid keyboard colouring to fill out every song and finally – good ol’ Mr Hogarth (“H”) – Immediately took to his keyboard at the start of the show, but during the course of the evening, took centre stage along with various props including his electronic cricket bat, various guitars (no fluffy strap I hasten to add) and a selection of jackets including a blue and white affair with enviable fringes. A few times he ventured over to Pete (obviously aware of the need for social distancing, he he) for a bit of a guitar duel and overall I’ll be honest, the two hours went by in a whirl.
Having seen the band a number of times over the years, I have to say this was NOT one of their best gigs (in my humble opinion), but I suspect many a devoted Marillion fan would piss on me from a great height and disagree most venomously.
In conclusion, it was so good to get back to a live gig (although we have been to a few since lockdown ended back in July) and as the Symphony Hall is one of our favourite venues – our view was great, the sound amazing, and a quite spectacular light show, used to great effect throughout the entire set. A very competent performance from a band that really need no introduction as I suspect any Marillion fan will have been waiting for this tour like kids at Christmas.
Well worth a visit and with a shit-ton of merch available, plenty to purchase to put your mark on the world so you can share with the world your love of one of the jewels in the UK’s Prog Crown – LONG LIVE MARILLION
Happy Christmas – Steve Gould (The Lost Art – Every Sunday 4.00 – 7.00pm)