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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Marillion

Live in Chicago, October 2nd, 2004

Review by Steve Alspach

Marillion hit the Midwest for the first time in seven years as part of their world-wide "Marbles" tour. Before a sold-out crowd, the band played the songs from the single-CD version of the album as well as a history of the Steve Hogarth-era band.
The single-CD "Marbles" release got a thorough run-through, and the songs were well received. "The Invisible Man" was an excellent showcase for Hogarth's angst and frustration. European singles "You're Gone" and "Don't Hurt Yourself" were also featured (commercial radio, please take note!). "Fantastic Place" built itself up gradually but majestically, and "Wonderland" hit and maintained a plateau that enveloped the audience. All four "Marbles" interludes were included as well.



The second set spanned the last fifteen years of the band's work. Beginning with the horn blasts that opened the Brave album, the band kicked into "Bridge" and "Living with the Lie." An abbreviated version of "Hey Jude," where Hogarth forgot the words for a split second, segued smartly into "Three Minute Boy." "Afraid of Sunlight" was another example of the band's sense of grandeur. Hogarth was a ball of energy during "Cover My Eyes (Pain and Heaven)," engaging the audience in a Bono-like call and response. "Between You and Me" took the show to the next level, and Ian Mosely's double-time bass drum kicks put the song over the top.

     
Steve Rothery, stage right, played his guitar with consummate skill. His lead lines were melodic, never showy, and well-stated. In back, keyboardist Mark Kelly showed a sense of calm that belies his "Mad Jack" nickname. The rhythm section of Pete Trawavas and Ian Mosely was like the Who in reverse - drummer Mosely was the placid one, keeping the band humming with incredible ease, while bassist and human gyroscope Trawavas was hopping, stomping, or using his head to add a little oomph to his playing. Where Rothery would cross the stage like a college professor entering the classroom, Trawavas would bounce across and get the audience pumped. Hogarth, front and center, was quite the showman. Not content to just sing, he would also add split-second expressions to accentuate the lines. His voice proved to be strong throughout the show, hitting the high register strongly and clearly. He even brought out his trademark midi-cricket bat and gave the audience a little sample (pardon the pun) for one of the songs.

     
If the Park West show is any indication of the band's popularity, somebody somewhere is seriously missing the boat. Despite two encores, the crowd insisted on a third, and Marillion obliged by playing the gorgeous "Easter." (During this song, this reviewer was almost run over by two forty-something women who got as close to the stage as possible and were then lost in total reverie.) Merchandise was sold out, and for the following two dates in Ohio fans were left virtually empty-handed (as if Ohio State having lost to Northwestern in football wasn't painful enough). It was a sign that seven years between visits is too long a wait for this talented outfit. Let's hope that next time around the wait is much shorter.
     
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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