Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home


Real To Reel

Review by Greg Olma

Marillion was always a band that seemed to do things on their own terms.  For example, the band released this live album after just two studio releases, which was not the norm for bands at the time.  Either way, this concert disc captures the group in fine form on the Fugazi tour.  I’ll admit that I generally don’t like single vinyl live records but there are some that hit the mark just right, and this is one of them.  Like Judas Priest’s Unleashed In The East and Saxon’s The Eagle Has Landed, this record has all the highlights of a Marillion show.  One of the most endearing parts of this release is that it manages to capture the band taking their studio tracks and energizing them for the stage.  Some artists work well in the studio and fall short in a live setting, but Marillion was the opposite, making the tracks come alive in front of an audience.  Although the band would put out a proper double live record almost exactly four years later, Real To Reel is an essential purchase for any true Marillion fan wanting to hear the band on their way up.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 5 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review

The disc starts off in fine fashion with a slightly heavier version of this opening track from Fugazi.  They play it very close to the original with the bass coming up in the mix.  Fish sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel on this tune where he goes from singing to, at times, spitting out the lyrics.  This track, as with all the material, was recorded on the Fugazi tour so it makes sense that both records start with the same tune.

Fish and company barely catch their breath before launching into another Fugazi tune.  This one captures the band in all its prog glory.  The beginning has a very 80s sounding keyboard with a bouncy tempo, but morphs into a few different parts where the band go from a very quiet passage to a soaring solo courtesy of Steve Rothery.
Cinderella Search
One thing I really liked about Marillion (and the 80s in general), is that they would always add an unreleased song on the b-sides of their singles.  “Cinderella Search” was the b-side of their “Assassing” single and it is really cool that they thought so much of the song that they performed it on stage.  It is a mellow tune that would have fit perfectly on Fugazi but time constraints of vinyl made it necessary to cut it form the album.  As with all the material this version of the band produced, Rothery’s guitar work is as much of a star as Fish’s vocals.
Emerald Lies
Mark Kelly ushers in this prog rocker that starts off a little heavier but quickly moves to a mellow section before it goes back to something resembling the beginning.  It’s the shortest track on this disc but one that showcases Fish, Kelly and Rothery in their prog prime.
Forgotten Sons
This prog rocker originally featured on their first studio album has a more energized version here on this live release.  If someone were to ask me to direct them to the best of early Marillion, I would tell them “Forgottten Sons” in a heartbeat.  There is plenty of prog that pays homage to the greats but also contains a bit of NWOBHM attitude.  Fish doesn’t just sing the lyrics, he seems to live them, making the song that much more impactful.  This is the standout of this live release.
Garden Party
Here is another one from the debut album that is really poppy and bouncy.  I’m sure I will get some flack for my stance on this, but I was never really a fan of this song.  It’s not bad, but I never got the appeal and while it is a fan favorite, it manages to not really elicit any type of reaction from me.  It is the “meh” track in the early Marillion canon of work.  Sure, it is better than a lot of other material out there but this one has a very pop prog element that doesn’t showcase the true talent of the band.
Market Square Heroes
Now this is more like it.  Without a second between tracks, this one kicks off nicely with a very energetic version.  The band stretch this one out a little bit as it was a highlight of their set during this timeframe.  You can hear within this version the joy the band had in playing the track. Although it is a prog song by a prog band, there is “hit single” written all over this tune where the prog elements don’t get overblown and take over a good melody.  Since I believe this was usually a show closer, it is fitting that it is the last track on the live disc.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
Return to the
Marillion Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./