October 19th 2022, Marillion in Muziekgebouw Eindhoven.
Finally, finally I could see one of my favourite bands live again and that really was too long ago. I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with Marillion and I have described this in detail in my column “My Marillion Story (so far)”.
This also had an effect on the number of concert visits over the years because during the time from Radiation to Marbles, of which I still don't think it's Marillion's best period, I only saw them live once. But since the release of Sounds That Can't Be Made, especially the fantastic Gaza, I am back on board the mothership and I have visited a concert of almost every tour since. I won't be going to two identical concerts of the same tour and I don't understand where some people get the courage , the time and the money to do this. Hats off.
I was not familiar with the Muziekgebouw in Eindhoven and I was pleasantly surprised by this beautiful location. We had left on time and on arrival we already found a pretty big queue in front of the entrance and decided to have a bite to eat first. In hindsight, that was not that smart because when we returned, all the beautiful seats were already occupied. Of course we should have known that, stupid. Given different views, we split up our group and I decided, together with one of the friends who had traveled along, to conquer a standing place in the hall below. All in all, there must have been just under two thousand people and that resulted in a pretty hot venue. It's nice to experience such a full house again.
The support act started and I thought for a moment; what's this, Freek and Suzan? This turned out to be a duo named June Road. They played some folk songs with guitar and violin. Sounded nice but to be honest I didn't really think it was special, sorry. They turned out to know each other through a link with Marillion so that explains their presence a bit. Personally I would have preferred to see a prog-related act, wouldn't it fit better? Or maybe no support at all?
Given my height and that of the visitors in front of us, we got a little cheeky and pushed our way forward until we couldn't go any further. Here our view of the stage was a lot better. Waiting always takes a long time, but at a quarter past nine it was time, let the show begin!
Because of all the photographed setlists of this tour, which could not be avoided on facebook, it was no surprise that the band would play the entire album An Hour Before It's Dark (review on reviewspage) and so they immediately hit it off with Be Hard On Yourself and it was clear from the start, the sound was almost perfect and Steve (Hogarth) was very easy to understand and wow this man can really sing! It seems as if his voice has lost none of its expressiveness in all those years and as a frontman he does his job exemplary. My opinion about the latest album hasn't really changed much because of the live performance, but the vocals were noticeably more distinguishable. I still have some trouble with Sierra Leone, it doesn't really touch me that much, but the rest was really beautiful with Rothery co-starring with his always striking guitar playing and super sensitive solos in The Crow And The Nightingale and Care (Every Cell). Goosebumps all over during the last part of Care, what a wonderful song that is.
The audience was very enthusiastic but somehowe I had the feeling that the response in other cities could have been more exuberant but that is for the people who have seen the other shows to judge. Here and there they passionately sang along, but there were also several "salt bags" present who enjoyed themselves in their own way (I think). The usual lineup had a surprising addition because a percussionist had been added and that appeared to be an added value for sure.
Hogarth gave a slight sneer at the Dutch fans whom he called difficult but later corrected that to "critical". He is probably right about that and I put my hand in my own bosom. But there is nothing wrong with that is there? There are enough mindless followers in the world already. Since they continued with Somewhere Else, his introduction became clear to me because this song doesn't do much for me and given the reaction of the rest of the audience there are more people who think so too. With Mad and Afraid Of Sunlight the band played it safe again because these are beautiful songs and the singing along got a bit better. Still, Hogarth looked a little disappointed now and then, and rightly so. That could have been better people! The Great Escape is one of my absolute favourites and was played superbly. This is what emotion looks like. Pure Class. After this, the men left the stage to loud applause. Still, it is fair to say that I have been to Marillion concerts where the hall was broken down, well figuratively, but given the average age of the audience I estimate the demolition level rather low. It was just not the case here. This however could all be due to me because I was the BOB (Dutch for designated driver) so unfortunately no yellow rascals for me, I had to stay sober.
The encore was no surprise, but it happens to be one of my absolute favourite songs and the closing track of the album F.E.A.R., The New Kings could count on a lot of acclaim and that was even more so with Sugar Mice, the second encore. Here the audience really got louder and were passionately singing along so that Hogarth could take it easy and let the fans do the work. At a little before half past eleven the lights went on and another magical evening had ended. Well, another hour or two to drive home. A good time to chat and compare our opinions.
What are my feelings about this concert after a few days?
Marillion are simply one of the best bands in the world and live up to it. The class of all musicians radiates and the overall picture is top notch. Of course there are always songs that you would have liked to hear, but then we would still be there today so the choice is respectable.
Now I have to be carefull. During the past years the role of Mark Kelly has shifted substantialy and despite his impressive arsenal of heavenly keyboard sounds I still miss a solo here and there, if only to keep the balance with Rothery. It really doesn't have to be in every song, but here and there, please.
Hogarth is an absolute brillant entertainer and still brings a ton of energy to the stage.
Rothery is a king and Mosley and Trewavas are the backbone of Marillion. Who said age matters?
Was this the best Marillion concert ever? (At least of the ones I visited). Almost I would say, but not quite. I missed that last bit of exitement in the audience but also within myself. The reason? Not sure, maybe the setlist? Sure, some classics were missing but songs like Neverland, Easter, Seasons End, The Space etc....... can't be played every time. It is as simple as that and we have to deal with it.
Marillion fans are quite loyal and given the succes of the Marillion weekends all over the world this will be so for many years to come.
We had a fantastic evening. On to the next tour!
Thank you Robert Zant for the fantastic photographs !