Support: Luke Jackson
Before the gig keyboardist Mark Kelly walked on stage and requested a camera free crowd. Refreshingly I saw very few on show (I admit I took one pic). A cooperative bunch these Marillion fans. Mainly men to be fair so no corrupting female influence. Indeed the term cockfest can be used to describe the make up of the crowd tonight. Most in black band T-Shirts from tours over the last 30 years. As for myself I don't own a Marillion T-Shirt. I nearly bought one back in 1990 at Hull City Hall...but I was 16 and broke. It was there thought that I saw Steve Hogarth take his first steps as lead singer. That of course was a time when he faced the huge task of replacing Fish. It seemed crazy that they would attempt to carry on and replace the big man but in the 25 years since they have more than proved the decision right.
Oddly, for a band that are considered old school, they were one of the first to embrace the Internet to reach their fan base and then using that fan power to the full. Indeed Kelly is seen as introducing the Crowdfunding idea and they have released albums this way. Ofcourse that only works if you produce music worth paying for..and Marillion in the Hogarth years have more than done that.
Hogarth can seem like a pissed toff when he is on stage swaying around in his way. His presence and voice though are both strong and the band as a whole have that confidence that comes with years on stage. That confidence means that set lists can change greatly and not just a run through of their greatest hits. Gaspachio opens the show here followed by my favourite, and the reason I bought the Seasons End album back in '89, Uninvited Guest...an underrated rock classic. There are Fish era songs as well, most notably the excellent Warm Wet Circles and That Time of the Night but Hogarth tracks such as Easter and No One Can are equally as good. Man of a Thousand Faces and King close the main set before The Christmas Song ('Chestnuts Roasting on an Open fire'...) and Lennon's Happy Xmas (War is Over) start a seasonal encore before finishing with the epic Slàinte Mhath. Second encore The Release and Garden Party send the fans home happy and myself wondering why the hell it has taken nearly 24 years to see this band again.
They may never have been the coolest group but then again I have never been the coolest fan. I love this band. They are never afraid to try new things and their sound is glorious. Yes they are unlikely to attract new fans but the Hogarth era Marillion deserve your attention and far more recognition.
Ticket: December 11th 2014
Ticket Price: £28.00