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Live in Chicago, June, 2005

Review by Josh Turner

If you get a chance to see Marillion in concert, don't miss the opportunity. They were much better live than I could have ever imagined. These special acoustic shows are extraordinary and well worth twice the price of admission.
Pete Trewavas was brilliant on the acoustic bass. Steve Rothery was amazing on his acoustic guitar as well. However, the real star who shined that night was Steve Hogarth. His voice was clean and commanding in concert. He also proved himself to be very a competent keyboardist. I guess this was one of his instruments in his past bands, "The Europeans" and "How we Live." One could say he hasn't lost the touch.

Marillion chose a wide selection of songs. While they played little homage to Fish, they did play one song, "Sugar Mice," from Clutching At Straws (the last album with Fish on it). They went as far as back Season's End. I recognized many classic cuts from Brave,, and Anaraknophobia. Off the latter, my favorite Marillion song, "This is the 21st Century," was artfully retrofitted for the acoustic format and the results were just fantastic. They followed this with another great song off the new Marbles album called "Don't Hurt Yourself." This pair of songs in particular was properly suited for their acoustic instruments. Hearing them in this manner offered a remarkable new twist on songs that were already alluring.

Also, to note, they draw an interesting fan base. It was a diverse crowd, featuring all ages and almost and equal proportion of each gender. The fans seemed to be quite knowledgeable about the discography and demonstrated enthusiastic claps as soon as the next piece was announced. One fan, in particular, knew everything about the band such as where they played, what others groups the members might have been in, and stated many recent sightings. While nobody puts the Star Wars fans to shame in terms of loyalty, this guy gave them a real run for their money. I hope he was told he didn't have to camp out to get a ticket. Tickmaster and the respective box offices do a good job these days of setting you up in advance without a sleepover.

I was also surprised to see, not one, not even two, but three other people who attended ROSfest this year at this show. It seems progressive rock fans sure to do travel.

If that's not all, there was another interesting attribute that distinguished these fans from their commercial counterparts. Their clapping was not even close to being your standard fare. There were two songs where the fans were clapping in incredibly odd time signatures. It wasn't the typical clap, pause, clap, but more along the lines of clap, pause, clap, pause, clap, clap, pause. If I'm the only one that found this strange, I'll be waiting for Rod Sterling's reception to The Twilight Zone.

The only problem with the show was the time and venue. The Double Door is a cozy and comfortable little place; however, the show was scheduled at 9 PM at night in the heart of Chicago on Father's Day. You could say it was a little tricky getting there on time with all the traffic. Unfortunately, I ended up missing the first 30 minutes of the show. Add to that the fact they started playing their first encore at 10:30, it turned out to be a very short engagement for me. Luckily for the enthusiasm of fans in attendance, the band was urged out to play a total of four encores. This helped to extend the evening. In some ways, I was appreciative of the succinctness of the show. It gave me enough time to head back before the sun was back out again.

All in all, it was a great experience. At the end of the night, Steve Hogarth joked that the next concert they'll bring the other two. To be honest, I prefer their acoustic sets. The songs just sound so sublime with those acoustic instruments, especially those melodic chords Pete plays on his acoustic bass. While Pete is side-tracked with side-projects and the band rarely comes stateside, I highly advise you to give them a chance if they do.

Just be sure to make it to the show on time.

Joel Craig
Joel Craig
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at
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