Marillion, 4th December 2002
013, Tilburg, The Netherlands
By Derk van Mourik (with additional notes by Bart Jan van der Vorst)
"It was on the eve of Christmas"
The end of the year is nearing and so Marillion embarked on a "Christmas
Tour" which among other places brought them to the Netherlands for two
concerts. The first of these was held at the cozy Tivoli theatre in Utrecht
on December 3rd, while on the following day Marillion graced the stage of
the 013 theatre in Tilburg (or Tilbury, as I have heard one overly
enthusiastic train attendant on the train from Brussels to Amsterdam call
the city for the benefit of English passengers).
One might wonder why, with Christmas still three weeks away, the tour was
dubbed the "Christmas Tour". The following anecdote might shed some more
light on this question, or perhaps muddle it only deeper, depending on how
you want to take it. Apparently H had been told something about the
Sinterklaas celebration we have here in The Netherlands each year on
December 5th. However, poor Hogy confused Sinterklaas with Santa Claus, and
therefore wished the audience a happy Christmas for the following day! One
can only guess at what he thinks our Christmas celebration on December 25th
is then... :-)
Typical Brit humour was also an important aspect of the show of the support
act for the evening, the two man band Cry No More. Armed with humourous
song texts and a number of funny anecdotes, they brought an acoustic show
which was often hilarious and at times musically interesting. One cannot
help but feel that the performance of these guys loses much of its impact
when heard on an album, though.
Marillion took the stage a few minutes after nine, opening with the sublime
Seasons End, which was -as always- preceded by the Christmas carol O Come Emmanuel.
This track from the 1989 album of the same name epitomizes
much of what Marillion is about. Foremost, it showcases the range of Steve
Rothery's guitar work, and is testimony to the important role he has had
and still has in shaping the Marillion sound. From the semi-acoustics in
the first half of the track to the blistering guitar solo halfway and the
"tockling" and slide at the end: it is all there, supported rather than
challenged by Mark Kelly's warm keyboard sounds, Pete Trewavas' solid bass
playing (never over the top but never unnoticed either!) and Ian Mosley's
subdued drum fills.
Apart from the epic This Strange Engine, which was played as part of the
second encore, Seasons End was the only real surprise in an otherwise
somewhat regular set, which was dominated by a lot of crowd favourites and
concert staples like Afraid of Sunlight, The Great Escape, Uninvited Guest
and Easter. Conspicuous in their absence were any songs from recent albums
Marillion.com and Radiation. It should be a telltale sign that Marillion
completely ignored these two albums, which are not the most popular with
What remained were, among others, a number of tracks from the most recent album
Anoraknophobia (of which This is the 21st Century was the definite
highlight, very much in the Seasons End mold), Man of a 1000 Faces (with
its majestic orchestral ending) and Cover My Eyes, which always gets the
crowd going despite the fact that it's one of the most commercial songs
Marillion have ever done (and also the biggest hit the band has had in Holland). It was an evening of singles anyway, as no less
than eight songs played have been released as singles in one form or
another over the years.
A fantastic rendition of another crowd favourite, the This Town/The Rakes Progress/100 Nights trilogy showed more intense
theatrics from H.
Another definite highlight was the first encore, which consisted of the
first part of Goodbye to All That from the classic Brave album, which
segued seamlesly into Afraid of Sunlight, still one of the best songs that
H era Marillion have ever done, and a showcase for H's vocal talents. He is
without a doubt one of the best vocalists out there and he holds his own in
a live performance without apparent difficulty.
He proved this again during the performance of the slightly fragmented yet
convincing modern Marillion epic This Strange Engine, which followed Cover
My Eyes during the second encore. The intense finale of this track would
probably move even someone who was three days dead, and this effect is due
for a large part to H's heartrending vocals.
As the band came back for yet another (third) encore, they surprised many with the christmas carol Gabriel's Message, which can also be found on the 1998 free fanclub Christmas CD.
The familiar Easter (Marillion plays this song during virtually every concert) closed the concert, and was
the last chance for the audience to showcase *their* vocal talents!
The crowd was pretty enthusiastic as Dutch crowds go, which is not all that
much of a surprise because although Marillion's following may not be that
large, it is pretty fanatic, and the average Marillion fan probably knows
more words to Marillion songs than there are in an English college primer.
Marillion gave a good show, which is what we have come to expect from a
band with twenty years worth of experience in the music business, but it
wasn't particularly special like on many other occasions. This has a lot to
do with the predictability of the set, which didn't really keep the crowd
on its collective toe. It doesn't always have to be special, though, and
Marillion surely delivered, as they always do.
Between You And Me
Map Of The World
This Is The 21st Century
Man of 1000 faces
The Uninvited Guest
The Rakes Progress
The Great Escape
Afraid Of Sunlight
Cover My Eyes
This Strange Engine
Photos © Bart Jan van der Vorst for DPRP (2001)