Few progressive rock bands have a career as long as the one of MARILLION. They’ve been through very progressive and symphonic moves, onto a more rock/melancholic prog of today – and since a long time, the lead vocalist Steve Hogarth is a steady rock behind the microphone.

It was with great pleasure that I said ”Yes, thanks!” to the invitation from Swedish distributor Playground Music and directed my footsteps to Hard Rock Café, Stockholm. To be exact, the place was the upper floor of Hard Rock Café, in a private part of the famous rock site. And the place was already jam packed with all kinds of people; magazine writers, record label people and probably also some die-hard fans.

Suzan Kverh from Playground made a short introduction and presented vocalist Steve Hogarth, as well as original band member Steve Rothery. Hogarth just welcomed us all with a few words and explained that we were about to hear the songs from the fortcoming CD entitled ”Marbles”. It was all said in less than 30 seconds, and then someone pressed ”Play”. Too bad that Hogarth didn’t talk a little more about the CD, but maybe he’s not the talkative kind.

It’s funny how you can ”read” a reaction in a crowd without hearing anyone saying anything! All was silent except for the music in the speaker system, and the audience was still. The opening song ”The invisible man” seemed to take the breath away from many of the music fans. A mainly soft song but yet with such powerful parts. As the songs rolled by we were given the overall impression of the new CD, and the ”Marbles” CD shows a mix of several music styles weaved into a lovely textile of sounds. A few songs are slightly uptempo, and with a slight U2 feel – well, I’d explain it like ”U2 as we would like them to sound”. But the soft songs by Marillion were the ones that really seemed to catch the attention of the listeners. Stefan Polzer (Atenzia) expressed it: ”Phew, it’s gonna take a lot if this CD does not end up as the album of the year!” As for me, I might not go that far. But the amazing voice of Steve Hogarth, added by the mysticism and tight sound of the band – it really sounded strong. As far as I know, it was CD #1 that was played during the evening, whereas the ”Marbles” CD consists of 2 CD’s. Just do not regard this as a ”review”. Marillion is a typical band who’s albums need MANY spins before you can make your opinion. We’ll have to wait until May before we know exactly how good the ”Marbles” CD is.

After the pre-hearing of the CD, the audience had a chance to shake hands, take photographs and autographs of the two Marillion members. Watching the huge line of people cueing for a glance and a word or two, I felt satisfied and went out into the dark night of Stockholm. Marillion will probably be back one day, and I’m sure I’ll get a chance to meet the guys again.

By Ola Gränshagen