words and photos by Peter Nicholson.
It was another sold-out performance for the return to the South Coast for iconic, genre defying band Marillion on Wednesday (21 September).
Steve Hogarth, who has fronted the band since 1989, joked with the Southampton audience that he hated the terms often used to describe their music. “Prog Rock? I don’t like that… Orchestral Rock? I like that even less… Symphonic Pop… that’s the worst!”. He then smiled and said, “however you describe what we do, I hope you enjoy the show”. So, not wanting to argue with Steve, I did exactly that, and I won’t try to pigeonhole them, other than to say that it was a superb evening of unique music with an attention to detail that is rarely seen in live performances.
Two of the unseen heroes of the evening were, without doubt, the lighting and sound engineers. Using a huge Midas sound desk, (which I imagine the road crew hate) the less than perfect acoustics of the O2 in Southampton were brought to life. Together with a stunning and perfectly engineered light show, they made this relatively small venue feel like a London Arena.
The band played a two hour set and were ably supported by Luke Jackson who’s opening set was full of his wonderful vocals and faultless acoustic guitar playing.
Like most audience members, I often dread the words “We’re going to play the whole of the new album for you”. Like most, I really want to hear the songs I’m familiar with, but on this occasion, it was a joy to hear such a polished set from musicians who clearly gel together so well and clearly still enjoy playing together, even after so many decades in the business.
Steve Rothery’s lead guitar was as perfect as ever. Each note practiced and polished, drawing on years of playing live. He stood (almost motionless) in his usual stage place and looked lost in the sound. The Keyboard and the rhythm section were equally well rehearsed and a testament to the adage that practice really does make perfect.
At the end of the show, there was a long standing ovation before the obligatory encore. A full house of very happy Marillion fans left the venue feeling they had been treated to a spectacular show. The Tour continues around the UK before heading to Europe. Catch it if you get the chance.
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