Marillion – Manchester, O2 Academy – 8 November 2017 Print E-mail
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Thursday, 23 November 2017 04:20

Ah, Marillion. A prog band without the usual wizard's hat, cape and other similar sensibilities that a lot of prog bands seem to almost demand must be considered wearable to fully appreciate their lyrics and winding solos. A band I also seem to have, somehow, managed not to see before, despite having every intention of doing so on numerous occasions.


Support was provided by Harry Pane, a singer/songwriter from Brackley in Northamptonshire.I was previously unaware of his work, though appearances at both Glastonbury and SXSW in Texas, USA means that he has to have talent, especially so as there a million wannabe Ed Sheeran's constantly trying to release music and be the next big thing. He uses what I at first believe to be a loop pedal, but turns out, after a shifting of position for a better look, to be a tapping board for his foot, hooked into the PA.


Harry Pane


He plays a seven-song set, which generally goes down well. There seems to be more audience background noise during the last track, as you feel they have maybe had enough of him now, but two covers during the set - Fleetwood Mac's ‘Big Love’ and Paul Rodgers' ‘Seagull’ meant that those in early enough for them have had their attention fairly well kept. A decent performance and he probably has won over some people and got some new fans.


During the interval, an announcement is made by a staff member on the mic, thanking the fans for coming and asking them not to record the performance, whilst also keeping photos to a minimum - possibly due to Marillion selling live recordings later. This is greeted fairly warmly though, and the crowd continue chatting amongst themselves afterwards.


On to the headline act though now and finally, Marillion take to the stage. From the off, Steve 'H' Hogarth is full of mischief and fun. Whether it's a cheeky 'Up your arse, Manchester', as he takes a swig of his drink, before they continue to the next song, throwing the tambourine once he has finished with it, leaving a rather active roadie to chase it and return it to the mic stand, there is a common theme of fun, naughtiness and cheekiness, as he even tells the crowd to shut up at one point as they insist on singing along to the previous song after it finishes, and he wants to continue with the show. This is a clear indication, though, of the camaraderie that he is enjoying with everyone present.


Marillion FB header


The atmosphere is electric right the way through the set. Whether the audience are singing along to everything - even the music at times - everything is performed perfectly. Steve Rothery disappears off into his own little world whilst playing, eyes closed, savouring his own music. Mark Kelly, on keys on a raised part of the stage at the back, taking turns to both lead and follow the rest of the band. Each member knows their job and does it immaculately, and in this I include the audience, too. The band clearly feed off the energy they are getting from the crowd and their participations, with the spectators likewise getting energy back from the band.


It is almost like a feeling of brotherhood amongst everyone there. No loud talking, no one constantly on their phone, everyone is there for the music and nothing but. Adding in the visuals on the large screen behind the band, at times echoing the songs and their meaning, at other times providing ambient visuals, it is impossible to not get swept along by what feels like a tide of emotion from every angle. Even when you take on board that some of the songs, like opening track ‘El Dorado’ and the final track of the main set ‘The Leavers’ are almost 17 mins and just over 19 mins respectively, there is no loss of attention, and this is down to the sheer skill of all the performers. H does a very good job of keeping people entertained when there is a lack of other stimuli at times in solos, with the energy you would associate with an old school punk singer, rather than the frontman of a prog band.


It's clear why Marillion continue to be a cult band, with shows like this showcasing quite how talented they are, and a clear indication of a band with talent doing things the right way, who are eventually starting to get the kind of following these performances deserve. A top, top night all around.


Marillion tour poster


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