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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Marillion

Live in Chicago, IL, October 2016

Review by Greg Olma

When Marillion rolls into town, it’s a special event.  Ever since their tour in 1997 for This Strange Engine, I have not taken Marillion touring the US for granted.  While they are popular here, touring the states is expensive, and they may not hit all the cities.  That is why I’m glad I live in Chicago.
With its good central location and transportation hubs, it makes it easy for fans to get here from other locations that are not on the tour schedule.  That being said, we were also lucky to have a two night stand in Chicago.  Traditionally, if Marillion plays two consecutive shows in the same city, they change the set list so that fans attending both concerts get different shows.  I attended the first of the two and came to find out that it was going to be the show with the different set list as opposed to the “usual” tour shows.  While it didn’t really matter as I’m sure both shows were great, I was glad to catch the different show just to catch something different.

Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
Since the band was promoting their new release F.E.A.R., they managed to play a healthy amount of that record.  Both “El Dorado” and “The New Kings” clock in over a half hour together and along with “Living in Fear," we were presented with close to 40 minutes of new material.  I was happy that they still made sure to perform so much new music because it showed that they are a band moving forward and not resting on the “hits."  Speaking of “hits," while I like the Fish-era of Marillion, the band did not play any tunes from that timeframe.  No one in the crowd, myself included, seemed to care because there are so many great songs from the Hogarth-era that it wouldn’t even be necessary to perform songs from the first four records.  Of the latter day classics, Marbles was well represented, as well.  We got to see great performances of “The Invisible Man” (the show opener), “Fantastic Place," and “Neverland."  Although Brave is one of those pieces of music I tend to listen to as one complete “song," “Wave” and “Mad” (parts I and II of "Goodbye to all That") fit in nicely with the rest of the set without feeling like there was something missing (i.e. the rest of the record).  The title track from Afraid Of Sunlight along with “Quartz," and “Power” were all part of the main set, with the latter being the highlight of the show for me.

Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
While the first encore consisted of “El Dorado” in its entirety, the second encore went way back to 1989 with their hit “Easter."  The show concluded with “Three Minute Boy” which contained a lot of funny ad-libbing from Steve Hogarth.  There are some concerts where one member of the band shines a little brighter than the rest, but in the case of Marillion the band really is greater than the sum of their parts.  Each musician is at the top of their game, yet they make their music the focus. The songs come first.  I would be hard pressed to name a prog band that surpasses Marillion in the live setting, and the show I witnessed was proof.

Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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