After a career of almost forty years Marillion released one of their best albums F.E.A.R. a short time ago. That amazing album is mainly “dominated” by the astonishing keyboard passages of Mark Kelly, the breathtaking guitar solos of Steve Rothery and the utterly up to date critical lyrics of Steve Hogarth. After a very successful American promo tour for F.E.A.R., Marillion now started with the European leg and tonight the band will be playing two back to back shows in Vredenburg/Tivoli theater in Utrecht (The Netherlands), which has been sold out for months.
John Wesley opens the evening – he played with Porcupine Tree and Fish – and he just released his new solo album A Way You’ll Never Be. Wesley plays a short, but rather “heavy” set (40 minutes), consisting of four new songs with as highlight the title track and the older song called Mary Will. .Extraordinary is the fact that Wesley plays a solo spot, just his guitar, his vocals and lots of backing tracks. Unfortunately not many people are already familiar with his new album, so the response is a rather mellow and that is really a shame because if you like rather “heavy” melodic guitar music, like yours truly does, then you really should have enjoyed this short but rather excellent gig.
But then at 20:30 sharp we finally hear the first notes of The Invisible Man, starting with the well-known first line: “The world is going mad” (also a theme of F.E.A.R.), through the loudspeakers of the Vredenburg/Tivoli venue and the enthusiastic kind of “older” audience is treated to an amazing symphonic rock show which meets all expectations. After this opening track from Marbles (2004), also one of the better Marillion albums, we can enjoy two of the “less appealing” songs of this set list being Power and Sounds That Can’t Be Made from their previous album released in 2012.
And then finally after three old songs, Steve Hogarth, the charismatic and still spirited vocalist and frontman introduces the first new song from the album F.E.A.R., namely one of the two “short” songs on the album: Living In Fear (inclusive singalong chorus). This very melodic song is followed by a surprise because we hear the first notes of Sugar Mice, a song from the Fish-period, from the album Clutching At Straws (1987). The crowd joins in and sing along very loudly while Hogarth takes a sip from his beer adding to the very relaxed atmosphere of this marvellous concert. Then we are treated to one of the high lights of this evening: the epic, spectacular The New Kings, divided into four parts is being played. Musically The New Kings is an amazing gem and hearing experience, but with the additional visual support showing i.e. images of Gucci, giant yachts and priceless jewellery, this track is even more impressive.
Man Of A Thousand Faces (This Strange Engine), with loud singing along from the crowd again, Quartz (Anaraknophobia) and Neverland (Marbles), which is still a great track, end the regular set of today.
The first encore is the second long song from this evening and also the opening track of the F.E.A.R. album: El Dorado, in which the not very nice, rather gloomy message of F.E.A.R. is being “proclaimed” by H loud and clear! The second encore This Strange Engine closes this fantastic melodic rock night and tonight’s show was a perfect mix of new songs, “old” hits and a few surprises. Maybe you could call the members of Marillion, already in the same line up for 25 years (Kelly, Mosley, Rothery, Trewavas, Hogarth) the New Kings?
A true disappointment was the fact that one of the other highlights of F.E.A.R., my favourite song from that album, The Leavers, was not on the set list this evening and besides that I would have loved to hear songs from Brave or Happiness Is The Road. But then the show would probably have been too long… well not for me anyway…. Hopefully Marillion will be performing for a couple of years more and I hope that they also will come up with new magical albums in the veins of F.E.A.R., because alternative symphonic rock bands of this calibre are hard to find.
I cannot wait for the DVD from this breath-taking F.E.A.R. tour!!
Review by: Martien Koolen