EThere are few bands whose success has been a curse like Marillion. In 1985 a little love song was taken from the concept album Misplaced Childhood and released as a single: Kayleigh. If you’re being served by a waiter in his mid-30s somewhere in the English countryside, that’s probably the name on his badge.
The song became a worldwide hit, and mainstream radio still plays it today. The band played to sold-out arenas for a while, but couldn’t (and didn’t want to) get a second hit, broke up, changed singers, has been writing one great album after another for four decades — and is always laughed at as the group that wrote the tearjerker “Kayleigh.”
Of course, the song is not on the set list at Berlin’s Tempodrom. It has been played frequently and as a gag for years. No one expects it either. Gone are the parade-goers of the 80s – replaced by fans who have followed Marillion loyally and devotedly over the years, some following the band on tour. In Berlin you can hear a lot of Dutch, Polish and Scandinavian.
The connection between Marillion and its fans is amazing. When the band lost their EMI contract, the next album was crowdfunded, and many more acts of this type were to follow. The fans also raised money for the US tour, when insurance payments were reduced due to Corona, the band sold some kind of bond to cover tour cancellations.
Every fan of the band
The beginning is Berlin is unusual: Marillion play their current album “An Hour Before It’s Dark” completely from beginning to end, so the first of two hours of the concert is already booked. The retro setting on the stage is also new: no more projections, it’s a spectacular but classic light show, full attention to the five musicians. After almost 33 years together, a strong team, fully integrated, a band in the truest sense, in which everyone leaves a lot of room for the other – although singer Steve Hogarth is usually in the front. He is 66 years old and still retains the mocking charm with which he once won over fans who, after the departure of the big Scottish Fish, were initially annoyed by the newcomer: a lanky boy who, during the songs, sometimes. on climbing box towers or doing gymnastics on a light rig.
He doesn’t, but his presence is still compelling: Hogarth is the perfect singer for the band’s soulful, deep and complex music, with frequent bursts of anger. This works in long songs as well as in short ones, which at least “Killing Machines” would be capable of again. The first attraction, as expected, was Corona’s epic “Care” with its last song of thanks to the helpers: “The angels of this world are not in the walls of churches”, but in hospitals and nursing homes.
In the middle, something can go wrong, which breaks the track quite delightfully: When guitarist Pete Trewavas’s monitoring system fails, Hogarth sings Pekip’s classic “The Wheels on the Bus”, and the hall joins in. In any case, they have always loved to sing, Marillion fans. So much so that even soloist Steve Rothery’s guitar solos and Mark Kelly’s piano are played together, while drummer Ian Mosley’s fists are punched in the thighs. Every fan has their own little Marillion band. This creates a happy and loud atmosphere, although the entire hall is unfortunately full of seats – a bad habit that is becoming more and more common.
Just a piece from the Fish era
The rest of the set consists of satisfying singles from the best of Brave, the album that finally freed Marillion from label expectations, replacing radio singles with a two-disc concept song about a distraught girl on a Welsh pier from the studio it came. . The beginning of the end for major label EMI, but the beginning of Marillion’s modern style, where the neo-progressive rock of the first four albums is only found as a distant echo. Marillion has left classic examples of the genre such as Genesis and King Crimson far more clearly than Steven Wilson, for example. Today you are in a class of your own.
As always, leaving the usual list in the capital, there is always the song “Berlin”, a powerful post-reunification epic. The band has also been fighting against the stereotype of singing about hobbits, orcs and trolls practically since its inception. They didn’t, but they’ve always been a political band that wanted their albums to be understood as commentary on current affairs. At the very end “Sugar Rat”, the only song of the evening from the era with Fish. You haven’t missed him in a long time. And even Kayleigh.
The band will be on tour in Germany until next week. In July next year the first German (in addition to the Canadian, Dutch, Italian and British editions) “Marillion-Weekend” will take place, where the band will perform two to four evenings in a row and perform a large part of the repertoire. . Location: Berlin, Tempodrom.