Tag Archives: Marillion

Fish announces December 2017 tour

Fish has announced an eleven-date UK tour in December 2017 including two nights at London’s Islington Assembly. The dates are as follows:

  • Fri 8 Leeds University
  • Sat 9 Manchester o2 Ritz
  • Sun 10 Leamington Assembly
  • Tue 12 Cardiff Tramshed
  • Wed 13 Bristol o2 Academy
  • Fri 15 London Islington Assembly
  • Sat 16 London Islington Assembly
  • Tues 19 Cambridge Corn Exchange
  • Wed 20 Newcastle Wylam Brewery
  • Thurs 21 Glasgow o2 ABC

Billed the “Weltschmerz- Clutching at Straws tour”, the shows will feature a full performance of Marillion’s 1987 album “Clutching at Straws” alongside material from his forthcoming album “Weltschmerz”.

These will be his only 2017 live appearances, though a European tour is planned for 2018.

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2016 Album of the Year

marillion-fear

And my album of the year, as one of two people have already correctly guessed, is Marillion’s majestic F. E. A, R. Or to give its full title, “F*** Everyone And Run”. It’s an album that sums up the despair of 2016

Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what The Guardian had to say

F. E. A. R. continues a late-career renaissance that began with 2004’s Marbles. It’s a totally uncompromising record; 68 minutes made up of just five lengthy songs with no obvious radio-friendly singles. Politically charged lyrics alternate between sadness and anger, and rich, layered instrumentation references common Marillion touchstones such as Pink Floyd and late-period Talk Talk, with the occasional hints of Van der Graaf Generator at their most grandiose and menacing. Keyboardist Mark Kelly is all over this record, going from electric piano runs to doom-laden organ, while Steve Rothery is also on top form with his evocative and lyrical guitar, exemplified by a wonderful solo on El Dorado. Things come to a climax with the The New Kings, which has singer Steve Hogarth railing at the state of the world and its corrupt, self-serving elites, all set to dark, intense music that’s as good as anything they have done. Quite possibly their best album in two decades.

Although in this case The Guardian’s reviewer was actually me.

The comments against the review make interesting reading. The vast majority are overwhelmingly positive, although you’ve got to laugh at the numpty who declared that five-star reviews “should be reserved for all time classic albums, not bands that slipped into musical irrelevance over 20 years ago” along with “And it’s not even a proper Guardian reviewer anyway” before compounding his idiocy by insisting that he didn’t need to listen to an album to know it can’t possibly be worth five stars. Sadly this is the sort of closed-minded prejudice bands like Marillion have fighting for decades.

Meanwhile I’m now getting blamed for their Royal Albert Hall gig selling out in minutes.

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F.E.A.R and Loathing at The Royal Albert Hall

fear-at-the-rah

Marillion have announced a show at The Royal Albert Hall on Friday 13th October 2017. Tickets go on sale on Monday 5th December,

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Desert Island Disks

The long-running BBC radio series “Desert Island Disks” asks the guest celebrity of the week to choose eight of their favourite records. The premise is that if you were marooned on a desert island, and you had just eight records to listen to, what would they be?

I’m treating “records” as albums, and for this exercise, I’ve imposed a rule of no compilations, and no live albums. So with no further ado…

pink-floyd-meddlePink Floyd – Meddle

The first album I ever bought was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. But although that album means a lot to me, there’s only room in this list for one dark angst-ridden concept album, and that’s coming up further down. And though “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” are undisputed classics. they’re so overexposed that they’ve just been worn smooth. If I’m in the mood for some Pink Floyd nowadays it’s most often either “Meddle” or “Animals” that gets played. If forced to choose, we’ll go for Meddle. It’s worth it for the extended dreamy atmospherics of “Echoes” alone, but there’s more to the album that that.

blue-oyster-cult-secret-treatiesBlue Öyster Cult – Secret Treaties

Blue Öyster Cult have been one of my top bands ever since a college friend played me the live version of “Astronomy” from Some Enchanted Evening when that live disk was still almost a current album. But since live albums are against my self-imposed rules, so we’ll go for their classic third album. Fan consensus is their Secret Treaties is their best, and fan consensus isn’t wrong. It’s the final album of the so-called “Black and White trilogy” combining richly layered music with a raw garage-like sound, with high weirdness lyrics hinting at the magical origins of World War Two. Blue Öyster Cult were always far more that just a metal band, and this album is proof of that.

Rainbow RisingRainbow – Rising

Hearing “Eyes of the World” on Nicky Horne’s show on Capital Radio radio changed my life. Ever since then Ritchie Blackmore’s music has been part of the soundtrack of my life, either with Deep Purple or with Rainbow. He was at the peak of his powers when he made this record along with the greatest hard rock singer of all time in the shape of the late Ronnie James Dio, and a sheer force of nature in Cozy Powell on drums. With just six tracks and a running time of less that forty minutes it’s all-killer-no-filler, with the monumental “Stargazer” as the centrepiece of the record.

220px-MarillionBraveMarillion – Brave

The three previous bands had been long-established by the time their music first appeared on my radar, but with Marillion I was there from the start. Not quite to the extent that I was seeing them play to thirty people in pubs before they were signed, but I did see them at the 1982 Reading Festival and bought their first album of the day of release. Since then they have released many great albums both with Fish and later with Steve Hogarth, but the favourite has to be their dark and intense 1994 concept album. As the sleeve notes say, play it loud with the lights out.

mostly-autumn-the-last-bright-lightMostly Autumn – The Last Bright Light

Anyone who knows me knows that Mostly Autumn are one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen them something like a hundred times live now. Which doesn’t make it easy to choose just one album, especially when their music has evolved of the years along with changes in the make-up of the band. But if forced to choose just one, it will be their third, the high point of their celtic-folk-prog era on Cyclops records. It’s now sadly out of print, though many of the best songs appear on the retrospective compilation “Pass the Clock”.

porcupine-tree-in-absentiaPorcupine Tree – In Absentia

It’s not easy to choose one Porcupine Tree record. Sometimes it seems as if their best album is whichever one I’ve just listened to. But if forced to keep just one, it would be have to be this album, because it’s sheer variety covers many of the bases of their sound. In just the first three numbers it goes from the Zepellinesque riffery of “Blackest Eyes”, the song-focused pop-rock of “Trains” and the psychedelic atmospherics of “Lips of Ashes”.

opeth-waershedOpeth – Watershed

Perhaps more than any other band, Opeth have redefined what a metal or progressive rock band can be, with deep roots in the classic rock of the 1970s on one hand and a contemporary attitude and desire to avoid repeating their own past on the other. Few other bands can match their sense of dynamics and compositional skills. All their albums are good, but Watershed is the best, seamlessly combining intense heaviness with mellow atmospherics, often in the same song, and would be the last time Mikael Åkerfeldt would use his death-metal growling vocals on record.

Panic Room - SKINPanic Room – S K I N

Along with Mostly Autumn, Panic Room are my other favourite club-level band, and I’ve seen them live almost as many times. Indeed, the two bands were joined at the hip at one point with Anne-Marie Helder and Gavin Griffiths doing double duty in both. All their albums have their fans; there are even people who think the first was the best, but for me the favourite has to be their third, which goes from hard rock to jazz-tinged adult pop to epic soaring ballads while still adding up to a coherent work. It may well be that their best is yet to come, but for now this album is their masterpiece.

Over to you. What eight records could you not live without?

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Marillion – 10 of the best

marillion

I’ve got another Ten of the Best features in The Guardian, this time for Marillion.

Attempting to condense thirty-five years and sixteen album’s worth of music into just ten songs is next to impossible, and the the list went through a lot of permutations before settling on the final ten.

As people ought to have realised by now, I always avoid the Big Hit that everbody knows, because what’s the point? There are so many other riches in the back catalogue. There’s nothing from their biggest-selling album, “Misplaced Childhood”, which is an obvious omission, but so much of it only works in the context of the whole album. “Bitter Suite”, a candidate on the initial longlist didn’t make the cut because it doesn’t work as a standalone song, ending abruptly when it seques into “Heart of Lothian”.

It was also a decision right from the beginning for the split between Fish -era and H-era songs to reflect the number of albums, which was always going to mean Fish-era songs would be in the minority. Some people will not like that.

And, just as predicted, the very first comment mentions Grendel…

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The Marillion Christmas Poll

grendelHippyDave of this parish is running the Marillion Christmas Poll again this year. It’s missed a couple of years because Marillion haven’t had anything new out, but with the release of F E A R, it’s time for a new poll.

There are three categories, Best Song, Best Album, and Best Other Band, which is a new addition this year, and may or may not show how many Marillion fans have a shared love of Girls Aloud.

Each category has a completely different different voting system, with the rules explained here and here.

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Marillion’s F E A R

Reviews of F E A R

My review of Marillion’s F E A R has now been published in The Guardian, not just in the online edition but in Friday’s print edition as well.

And yes, the album really is that good.

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Marillion – The New Kings

The first section of the 17-minute epic “The New Kings” from the forthcoming album “F*** Everyone And Run”.

It’s only a short taster, but it’s sounding like powerful stuff. With the events over the past few weeks and revelations of what happened in the recent past, this album is sounding disturbingly prescient.

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Marillion announce F E A R

F E A R

Marillion announce the name of their new album, “F*** Everyone And Run”. As lead singer Steve Hogarth describe it:

What’s in a name?……

All worthwhile human impulses come from love. And all negative and destructive human impulses come from fear.

This album is called Fuck Everyone and Run or F.E.A.R.

This title is adopted not in anger or with any intention to shock. It is adopted and sung (in the song “New Kings”) tenderly, in sadness and resignation inspired by an England, and a world, which increasingly functions on an “Every man for himself” philosophy. I won’t bore you with examples, they’re all over the newspapers every day.

There’s a sense of foreboding that permeates much of this record. I have a feeling that we’re approaching some kind of sea-change in the world – an irreversible political, financial, humanitarian and environmental storm. I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that my FEAR of what “seems” to be approaching is just that, and not FEAR of what “is” actually about to happen.

The album will be released on September 9th 2016, and the final date for pre-orders is 17th June. You can pre-order now on Pledge Music. You know you want to!

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Or you can love….

Because Marillion put my thoughts on the atrocity in Brussels far better than I can in the song “A Few Words For The Dead

Can you make it on your own
Can you take it by the throat
Make your own luck – learn the skills
Get in early
For the kill

It carries on

Pick up the weapon
Marry it. Give it your name
Define yourself by it
Take it down the disco

It carries on

Trigger happy
Pulling power
LadyKiller
Take em out

It carries on

See the weirdos
On the hill
Come to get you
If you stand still

Somewhere in history
You were wronged
Raise your children
To bang the drum

It carries on
Tell all the family
Tell all your friends
Teach your brothers
To avenge

It carries on

Or you could LOVE…
You could LOVE

Lie down in the flowers
In the blue of the air
Open your eyes. Why use up your life for anything else?
No need to fight for what everyone has
What do you need?
It’s already there
It’s already there

You could LOVE

So he carried the stars in his pocket
He drank the sunrise till was drunk
He embraced the angels
They swam like little minnows in his blood
Ghosts in his eyes
Out walking beside him
Laughing like children in his mind

They chanted his mantra together
“You could love”

They were happy.

Steve Hogarth, 1998

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