When a renowned band like Marillion makes a new album that gets raving reviews from even the most
critical journalists in the scene, the accompanying tour can be looked forward to with high anticipation.
So it was no surprise that the band sold out the Vredenburg venue in Utrecht twice easily within a couple of days.
Because I obtained my copy of the F.E.A.R. album just a couple of days
before the gig and because it is a fantastic yet difficult album to get into,
I was not too familiar with the new material.
Therefore I hoped they would also play some of my favourites from their rich and large back catalogue.
I wasn't disappointed in that at all!
Support act John Wesley opened at 7:30 p.m. exactly.
He has supported Marillion on numerous occasions before but I had not seen him.
With the first chords he made quite clear to me that his music wasn't my piece of cake at all.
It was very loud, had a sort of shredding tone and that sounded quite ugly to my ears.
Above that his music, which was totally unfamiliar to me,
lacked any melody which was a pity because he certainly can play and has a pleasant voice.
I admired his courage to play in front of such a fully packed venue eagerly waiting for their favourites to appear.
At the same time I was glad he stopped after half an hour. Sorry John, just not my taste!
Setlist John Wesley
By the light of a sun
To outrun the light
A way you'll never be
Under thunderous applause the band entered the stage at 8:30 p.m. but without mr. H.
They started off with Invisible man from my favourite Marillion album Marbles.
H's vocals were recorded on film and could be watched and listened to on a wide screen behind the band.
His facial expressions and mimics, although behind glasses (!),
were enormously enlarged and it worked all very well technically.
Some minutes into the song the man himself appeared on stage wearing the same
outfit as on the film and continuing the song as if it was the most start of a live show you can imagine; nicely done!!
Yet not all was great. H's voice was not really good,
he missed some tones and he lowered his registers a couple of times.
He totally missed the timing in the bridge between Goodbye to all that and Wave but
as only a great band can do, they just started again and this time all went well.
They're simply humans who can make mistakes.
Maybe this was an effect of the extensive touring they have done?
I don't know and it wasn't a big deal either because the constant energy
of the band and the music and the wits by mr. H. are always a great pleasure to watch and to experience.
At one moment he went a bit too far and kicked a rucksack from the stage,
but managed to make it up with the owners in his own special, charming way.
Just a naughty boy enjoying himself immensely.
And we, the audience, did exactly the same because they had compiled such an fantastic set of songs to play for us.
There were a couple of songs from Marbles, including the highlight Fantastic place
(although the keyboards were not always perfectly audible),
there were songs from the Afraid of sunlight album including an emotional rendition of King with
clips from several musical heroes that have already passed away,
such as Bowie, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.
On Tuesday evening they played some songs from the Sounds that can't be made album
but this evening only the title track of that album was played.
Instead some tunes from Brave featured and that was especially nice
for those that were present on both nights (quite a few!).
Easter with its formidable acoustic intro and phenomenal guitar solo at the end,
was not forgotten, to great joy of all present.
Woven in between these well-known tunes were songs from the new album,
perfectly played as if they had done that complex music for ages.
That alone illustrates more than enough that this a still a really fabulous
band that doesn't need much communication amongst the band to play well.
It flows and goes on in such a natural way, it is almost unbelievable.
Especially Ian Mosley and Mark Kelly, as always both quietly on the back of the stage,
play their intricate parts as easy as can be,
adding enormously to the overall sound but never ever showing off.
Marillion's music is the music of a bunch of very talented musicians that
understand each other perfectly and have found their individual roles within
the totality of the band. Let H. do whatever he wants,
he is extremely good at communicating with the audience as are the others in their own role as players.
After that memorable version of King the band was called back to do an encore.
They choose to do the El Dorado-epic from the last album and I found that quite daring.
It is a difficult piece of music with many different moods ranging from very quiet
and mellow to outbursts with intensive vocals and guitar solos.
The piece asks a lot from the listener and we had been there for more than 2 hours already.
Yet they managed to silence the crowd with this 17-minute song and got a warm,
enthusiastic and very well deserved applause afterwards.
As we all hoped for one encore wasn't enough and the band re-appeared to do another epic as an second encore.
This time it was Ocean cloud, again from Marbles and in my opinion
one of the best songs they ever recorded.
And still it wasn't over because the last song was a very loud version
of their first single Market square heroes, sung along by everyone in the audience.
After more than 2,5 hours that was a more than appropriate end of a probably not perfect,
yet another great gig. Marillion still ranks amongst to very best in the scene,
this evening was undoubtedly another proof of that.
We can only hope that they manage to keep up this high standard of prog music for many years to come.
The invisible man
Sounds that can't be made
Living in F E A R
Goodbye to all that
Wave (restarted due to timing issue)
Afraid of Sunlight
The New Kings:
I. Fuck Everyone And Run
II. Russia's locked doors
III. A scary sky
IV. Why is nothing ever true?
The great escape
I. Long-shadowed sun
II. The sold
III. Demolished Lives
IV. F E A R
V. The grandchildren of apes